Leonard Abrams started the paper, which chronicled the cultural life of downtown New York, in 1979. After trying for eight years to place its archives, he handed them off to the library last fall.
By Hannah Gold, February 7, 2023
In November, Leonard Abrams opened every box in his storage locker in Ridgewood, Queens, and inspected its contents. Half contained his personal belongings.
In the other half were seventy-two yellowing issues of the East Village Eye. The newspaper, which Abrams published and edited from 1979 to 1987, covered the era’s monumental art scene, the gentrification of downtown Manhattan, and the swelling AIDS crisis in real time. This was the day he would finally part with its physical remnants, having sold his archive to the New York Public Library.
I watched as Abrams made his way through each of the cardboard boxes: one was a wine box, one was from Amazon, some were ripping along the folds. He unearthed a menorah, a ceramic peach, a dress coat he’d meant to wear to a recent wedding, and an old address book, in which he showed me the entry for the famed drag queen Ethyl Eichelberger.
Abrams’s archival broker, Arthur Fournier, held a clipboard, checking off each of the nineteen official boxes and accordion folders as Abrams located them in the piles stacked taller than any of us. When the full inventory was accounted for, the two men loaded the boxes onto a dolly, and then into Abrams’s cherry-red minivan.