Since July 2007, Jeremiah Moss has made a name for himself as one of New York City’s most staunch opponents of change, chronicling with feverish intensity the demise of mom and pop shops and city institutions like Roseland Ballroom and Café Edison. But all along the author has been laboring under a pseudonym. Today, in a New Yorker profile, the person behind Vanishing New York is revealed as Griffin Hansbury, a psychoanalyst and social worker who moved to the city in 1993. He has been an East Village resident for as long.
Hansbury is a stalwart defender of the city’s old guard, particularly in his home neighborhood where punks and Ukrainians once ran the streets. In an interview with Curbed, Hansbury says he came to the city motivated by many of the same reasons as others who don’t feel embraced by their hometowns. He found solace in the culture of the East Village, but “very, very quickly, that was wiped out.”
That loss, after a lifetime of yearning, sowed the seeds for Vanishing New York. “I’ve finally found home, and then it’s being taken away both in terms of the cultural fabric of the space and also in that where I live—my home—is under threat,” Hansbury told Curbed. (The New Yorker notes that the East Village walk-up Hansbury calls home recently sold to an LLC, which so often in New York City indicates a certain doom.)
Hansbury has operated anonymously for nearly a decade, allowing him to “[make] a space psychologically in which I could occupy a part of myself that was dogged, and determined, and undeterred,” he says of writing as the persnickety Jeremiah Moss. “It gave me a lot of psychological freedom.” But to be sure, Jeremiah Moss is a persona. “If you took the crankiest part of me and isolated it, it would be him,” Hansbury told the New Yorker.
With his newly illuminated personality, Hansbury acknowledges that Vanishing New York will probably change, though exactly how he’s not yet sure. “It feels a lot less needed,” Hansbury says of the website where, in the lead up to his book Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul, due out in July, posts have become less frequent. Hansbury used to update the site twice a day, five times a week on top of his professional work, but says that the site feels like its providing less of a service now that competition often beats him to the punch.
So what’s next? With the research accompanying his book under his belt, Hansbury says he’d like to move away from the frenetic pace of blogging into longer-form pieces that provide a similar, yet more in-depth service. Hansbury says that he hopes the constant barrage of physical and cultural loss in New York City over the last decade has raised awareness about how the city is changing. There’s a lesson in what Hansbury told the New Yorker of the now-gentrified East Village, “I feel alienated in my own neighborhood. It’s like a frat house.”
- Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York [official]
- An activist for New York’s mom-and-pop shops [New Yorker]
- Once-gritty Avenue A is undergoing a major transformation [Curbed]
- All NYC gentrification coverage [Curbed]