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Lessons from Greenwich Village

Why genius tends to cluster
Lessons from Greenwich Village
  • One small village in Manhattan changed the world in the post-war years
  • Silicon Valley has changed the business landscape
  • Which cluster of genius is going to change the world next?

Described as “probably the most famous neighbourhood in America” in the 1960s, Greenwich Village in New York became the locus of global change. Though it might come as a surprise that the Village People were more than just a flamboyant selection of men in headwear, they were in fact a community of creative thinkers determined to shake up tradition. Much like a certain technology hotspot today.  

Sixties Greenwich experienced a ‘café culture’ boom, in which intelligent young people discussed ideas and performed in the village’s many coffeehouses. A key group of such performers were the Beat Generation. Many will recognise these poets from the caricatured film versions of Allen Ginsberg, lecturing a group of glassy-eyed students on the mystique of marijuana. In actual fact, the Beats had a fundamental influence on pressing political situations. They were among the first to question the presence of American troops in Vietnam and were heavily involved in civil rights. They were also central to progress in gay rights: the village’s Stonewall Inn was home to the very first gay protest.

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