A Radical’s Legacy: Emma Goldman Lives On at Occupy Wall Street, and on the Rental Market

Footage of Occupy Wall Street by Noam Berg.

Emma Goldman may have been the East Village’s most famous radical. For ten years she published the magazine “Mother Earth” out of her 13th Street residence, where she housed transient intellectuals of every stripe. At one point she listed her return address as 50 East First Street, where the tavern of Justus Schwab, an anarchist who was among those charged with inciting the Tompkins Square Riot of 1874, served as “the most famous radical center in New York.”

The tavern, she wrote, was “a mecca for French Communards, Spanish and Italian refugees, Russian politicals, and German socialists and anarchists who had escaped the iron heel of Bismarck.” Interestingly, a storefront at the address is currently for rent. Invoking Ms. Goldman in a Craigslist posting, the landlord seeks “a thriving local business forced to relocate because of a steep rent hike.”

Indeed, Emma Goldman’s theories are more than just an interesting relic of the neighborhood’s past. Her deeds and words have gained renewed notoriety among Occupy Wall Street protesters, one of whom, Miriam Rocek, has even taken to impersonating her. Watch her spread the late radical’s spirit and ideas in a video that also features Vivian Gornick, author of the recently published “Emma Goldman: Revolution as a Way of Life,” about the anarchist’s life in the East Village at the turn of the twentieth century.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 1, 2012

An earlier version of this post misidentified the address of Justus Schwab’s tavern. It was at 50 East First Street, not 10.