After Over 20 Years Overlooking the East Village, Lenin Comes Down - Atlas Obscura
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After Over 20 Years Overlooking the East Village, Lenin Comes Down

An 18-foot-tall statue of Vladimir Lenin was removed.

Lenin, in his rightful place atop Red Square. (Photo: Pharos/CC BY-SA 3.0)

To a casual pedestrian on Houston St., the southern border of New York’s East Village, Red Square might not look much different than any other tall-enough apartment building in the area. But when this building was completed in 1989, it was, depending on your perspective, a bold real estate move to bring upscale housing to a new neighborhood or one of the harbingers of doom for an East Village golden age. It also had a secret, starting in 1994: If you looked up to the roof, from the right angle, you could see a statue of Vladimir Lenin on the roof, one arm raised in the air.

If East Villagers had mixed feelings about the building, the statue was a point of pride. This week, though, it was removed from Red Square’s roof, reports local blog EV Grieve.

After dark, a crane came and lifted the 18-foot-tall statue from the spot on the roof where it lived for more than 20 years. Lenin came to Red Square after the fall of the Soviet Union: the statue had been commissioned from a Soviet artist but never went on display. A friend of one of the building’s owners found it “in the backyard of a dacha outside Moscow,” the New York Times reported in 1997. Lenin was positioned on the roof so that he faced “Wall Street, capitalism’s emblem, and the Lower East Side, ‘the home of the socialist movement,’” the Times noted.

Red Square is reportedly under contract for sale, and presumably the buyers have plans that don’t include quirky Soviet statues gracing the roof. And Lenin? Bowery Boogie reports that, like so many New Yorkers who are priced out of their neighborhood or forced out of their building, he’s landed in a new spot in the city—and he didn’t even have to go too far. Lenin now lives on the roof of 178 Norfolk Street, just down the block from his old place.