Updated: Oct 18
In the midst of bustling streets and joyous festivities, I embark on a unique journey. The documentary in progress, "The Italian Factor," is a relentless pursuit of history, culture, and the Italian-American experience. As I gear up for the next leg of my expedition, I turn my focus to two pivotal locations: the Washington Square Arch and Tiro A Segno, a historic Italian club on McDougall Street.
Washington Square Arch: A Monument Steeped in History
Where Fifth Avenue begins, the Washington Square Arch stands tall, an enduring testament to the spirit of New York City. On the north side of the eastern pier, a sculpture by Hermon A. MacNeil depicts George Washington as Commander-in-Chief, accompanied by the allegorical figures of Fame and Valor. On the western pier, another sculpture by Alexander Stirling Calder, with flanking figures of Justice and Wisdom, portrays George Washington as President. This duality of Washington at War and Washington at Peace is a powerful metaphor for the ebb and flow of time and history. The Piccirilli Brothers, at the center of The Italian Factor, were responsible for carving these works and adding to the memorial their extraordinary genious.
Tiro A Segno Italian Club: A Living Relic
Nestled in the heart of the South Village Historic District, the Tiro A Segno has a history that echoes the Italian-American experience in New York. Established on August 14, 1888, it remains the oldest continuing South Village Italian organization. Its current location on McDougall St. has been its home since 1924, serving as a vital hub for the Italian-American community.
Of particular interest to "The Italian Factor" is the connection between the club's founding date and the arrival of the Piccirilli family in New York. In 1888, Greenwich Village was a vibrant Italian enclave, and exploring this period provides insights into the broader context of their immigration and the urban landscape of the era. Despite the Piccirilli family settling in midtown, far from the Village, I aim to unravel the ambiance and architectural details that shaped the Village during their time in New York.
A Glimpse into the Past
"The Italian Factor" is not your typical documentary. It's a journey through time and heritage, a relentless pursuit of authenticity that doesn't shy away from history's gritty and complex aspects. As I prepare to film in these locations next week, I think of the multiple layers of history, from the Piccirilli family's arrival to the broader Italian-American narrative that shaped Greenwich Village. Stay tuned for updates from the heart of Greenwich Village as "The Italian Factor" continues to bring the past to life, one frame at a time.
Please consider your tax-deductible donation to The Italian Factor. Donate today online or by mailing your check to Documentary Film Fund: 1165 Owensville Road, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22901.