History of the New York Yippie Museum & Movement

New York Yippie Museum

New York Yippie Museum

The sixties were a time for change, a time for peace, and a time for every purpose under heaven. At the forefront of this change were many of counterculture’s greatest, such as Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Anita Hoffman, Phil Ochs, Aron “Pie Man” Kay, and many more. These people decided that the country their parents created wasn’t theirs, and they were going to drop the old to create a new, better one. Through this frantic, psychedelic, screaming, drug soaked revolution a new political party would be created known as The Yippies.

The Yippies, as they were known, were named and created by Abbie Hoffman and Paul Krassner. A play on the word “hippies” the Yippies set out to shake up the system and change it for good. To add a more serious tone to the jovial party, Abbie Hoffman’s wife Anita came up with the term “Youth International Party” and thus the Yippies, or the Youth International Party was born. The group would spread throughout the country and up into Vancouver, creating an army of tie dye soldiers who fought under the Yippie flag-a pot leaf over a red star upon a black background. These pranksters would be the creators of the new left, and as such would go on to make history with their theatrical political stunts.

Throughout the sixties the Yippies created a name for themselves, pulling off such ludicrous stunts such as throwing a mixture of fake and real dollar bills off the visitor’s ledge at the New York Stock Exchange, shaming those who scrambled to pick up the bills. They would also be made up of the infamous “Chicago 7” which started as the “Chicago 8 until Bobby Seale was bound and gagged in court, only to be found guilty for contempt of court at his own trial sometime later. This trial was due to the supposed antics, lack of permit to protest, “intent to incite violence” as well as crossing state lines to do so that the Yippies committed during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago,Illinois. The party would continue in their theatrical political protests throughout decades, even after Abbie Hoffman went underground to avoid charges against him. This created a need for the group, an even stronger one than before as their daily dealings continues. This need brought the group to purchase and operate a building in the Bowery of New York City. 9 Bleecker became the HQ and hub for New York Yippies, originally run by Abbie Hoffman, the building was soon taken over by other members of the party, such as Aron Kay and AJ Weberman.

9 Bleecker became the Yippie Museum and Cafe, and during its heyday featured open mic nights, an operating separate café, instructional courses, political activism, music, and more. The Yippie Museum and Cafe featured leftist memorabilia from all over the world, history lessons and displays related to counterculture and Yippie idealism and history. The building was a buzzing hope of left hope and memory, adorned with memories of incense, peppermints, activism and an exuberant amount of marijuana, the museum was at one point the best place to be if you were a Yippie or someone who didn’t like their hair to be worn too short.

Acting as a pillar of counterculture history and spirit, the museum and operating café sadly lost its battle with high mortgage rates in 2014 after the café had closed its door in 2013. After some time the building was bought and now houses a popular Bowery boxing club by the name of “Overthrow.” The interior of the building artfully retained much of its Yippie and revolutionary 60s decor, causing tourists to continue to come view it. Though the museum lost it’s building, their Facebook page remains, as does the original spirit and motto of those who created it all. Many of the original Yippies and museum directors still live in the area and still spread the Yippie word, keeping the fight and spirit of a time past well and alive.

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