A lawsuit filed on behalf of neighbors to prevent the demolition of No. 1 St. Mark’s Place was presided over by a Superior Court judge, ending a two-year rift that pitted independent landowners against a corporate behemoth — all over 8-feet of land. Another battle for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation? Not this time; this took place in May of 1856.
READ FULL ARTICLE: http://www.thevillager.com/?p=1332
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Inside Hiram Anderson's Great Carpet Establishment at 99 Bowery (c.1858), which billed itself as the “largest carpet establishment in the U.S.”
Today 99 Bowery hosts the Chinese-owned Olivia Furniture Corporation.
Friday, December 16, 2011
|The Park Theatre, located just below the one-time fashionable Chatham Square, |
was one of the nation's first contemporary professional theaters.
Opened on January 29, 1798, the Park Theatre was built to satisfy the city's Post-Revolution aristocracy and elevate New York City's status on the world stage as a culturally and commercially viable metropolis. Early planners set out to create a megalopolitan empire on par with European cities like Paris and London, attracting some of the wealthiest families of the era to Lower Manhattan -- and the Park became the crux of this Utopian-seeking high society.
The theatre offered world-class acts from around the globe and was the first to introduce professional Italian Opera to the country in November of 1825, Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" (The Barber of Seville). The Park became the premiere playhouse for U.S. debuts of European superstars such as Norwegian violinist Ole Bull and Austrian ballerina, Fanny Elssler and was a breeding ground for pioneers of early American theatre as some of the most celebrated actors, singers, dancers, playwrights and producers of the 19th century earned their reputations at the Park.
Despite the high caliber of performers and pedigree of theatre-goers, the Park's function was wholly utilitarian and lacked any aesthetic beauty. It was described as "an unattractive auditorium, inadiquately illuminated, with many uncomfortable seats." by The Magazine of history with notes and queries, Volume 22.
|The Bowery-Theatre, 46-48 Bowery|
By that time, New York City had changed dramatically. It went from Colonial backwater to cosmopolitan city in a matter of decades and the rapid change did not sit well with the entire population, as explained in The Bowery: A History of Grit, Graft and Grandeur:
As grand as (the Bowery Theatre) was, a new theater in Manhattan was not welcomed by everyone. Much of the conservative population was not adjusting well to the new cosmopolitan status of New York City and the hedonistic culture it bred. An 1826 Magazine of the Reformed Dutch Church article warned: “A theatre in this city was opened for the season on the Monday evening of last week. We do not mention this fact to give information;—we mention it to excite Christians to pray against the wide-spreading pestilence; to exhort Christian parents to keep their children from the vortex of destruction.”
The Christian Spectator commented: “The influence of the theater is bad, and only bad,” along with several more paragraphs of colorful passages like, “The theater cannot be reformed. We should just as soon think of reforming the devil himself.”
However, it wasn’t theatrics per se that had conservatives up in arms, though they did complain of productions that were lowbrow, amoral and obscene. It was the alcohol, prostitution and gambling that went hand in hand with a night on the town in the 1820s and ’30s that really bothered them. For example, it was common practice for theaters to hire prostitutes from nearby Five Points to work the upper tiers of the auditorium, and liquor was served by waitresses of questionable morals who wore dresses that revealed their ankles.
|Early Bowery Theatre ad|
promising "Piracy Mutiny &
Murder," and "Fire Worshipers."
While the Park continued to offer top-notch European artists, the Bowery promoted home-grown entertainment and stole some of the Park's thunder for a few years, however the Park remained a celebrated New York City treasure until its demise.
The original 1798 Park Theatre burned to the ground in 1820 but was rebuilt by 1821, only to suffer the same fate on December 16, 1848. Some hanging playbills were ignited by a nearby gas lamp and within an hour the structure was devastated. It was never rebuilt, ending half a century of cultural influence.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
|An April 1920 cover of Il Martello,|
published at 208 E. 12th Street
Called "radical" and "subversive" by opponents, Il Martello faced tough government scrutiny for its anti-war, anti-establishment views and was deemed "unmailable" at the time by the U.S. Postal Service.
The newspaper, originally titled, Il Martello: Giornale politico, letterario ed artistico ("The Hammer: Political, Artictic and Literary Newspaper"), was founded in in November of 1916 by a man named Luigi Preziosi. Tresca purchased the magazine for a few hundred dollars in late 1917, soon after halting operations of his previous journal, L'Avvenire ("The Future") in August of that year.
Tresca purchased Il Martello -- but did not attach his name to it for over a year -- as a way to circumvent government censorship. By the time he acquired the newspaper, Tresca's involvement in national labor movements and progressive writings had caught the eye of authorities, who went as far as tapping his phone line.
According to Carlo Tresca: Portrait of a Rebel by Nunzio Pernicone,"Tresca's acquisition of Il Martello demonstrated his skill in the fine Italian art of arrangiarsi -- to manipulate a situation for the best outcome."
Knowing he could never get the proper permits to publish in his name, Tresca essentially used Il Martello as a front to continue his mission; It was not until June of 1918 that his name appeared as publisher.
Il Martello moved into an office at 208 E. 12th Street by the Spring of 1920, and Tresca lived in an apartment above John's Italian restaurant at 302 E. 12th Street. Over the following twenty-three years, the publisher created a lot of enemies as an outspoken critic of Communism, Stalinism and Benito Mussolini's attempt to organize fascist support on American soil.
Ultimately, Tresca was assassinated on a Fifth Avenue sidewalk on January 11, 1943. His murder remains unsolved though several theories have circulated since the incident. One leading theory hints at Mafia involvement -- more specifically, Bonanno underboss Frank Garafolo, who at the time operated a Cheese import shop at 176 Avenue A, according to Manhattan Mafia Guide by Eric Ferrara.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
We are pleased to announce that our staple "Lower East Side" and "East Village" walking tours have been revamped with with a new route, content and guide -- author and director of Lower East Side History Project, Eric Ferrara.
Ferrara, a fourth-generation Lower East Sider, offers a decade of active research and over a century of ancestral community insight, providing a one-of-a-kind experience suitable for any casual tour-goer or hard-core academic.
Utilizing rare maps, photos, documents, articles and oral histories not found elsewhere, Ferrara digs deep into the neighborhood's forgotten history -- far beyond the familiar "immigrant experience" narrative -- exposing the social, political and cultural intricacies which made this so district vital to the evolution of our city.
Lower East Side Walking Tour
Every Saturday at 12:00pm (beginning January 7, 2012)
East Village Walking Tour
Every Saturday at 2:00pm (beginning January 7, 2012)
Thursday, December 8, 2011
|Click for larger map|
|Old St. Patrick's today|
A few of these original churches have been transformed into synagogues since 1877, including the First German Baptist Church (1) which has been home to Congregation Tifereth Israel since the 1960s and the Bialystoker Synagogue, which moved into the landmarked Willet Street Methodist Episcopal Church building (13) in 1905. Another example is the St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (38), which lost much of its congregation in the 1904 General Slocum disaster and sat empty for decades until the Sixth Street Synagogue moved in just before WWII.
|Bialystoker today, 7 Willet St.|
If you would like to learn more about our local houses of worship, you may be interested in our seasonal Sacred Spaces walking tour of the Lower East Side.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
For well over a century, the Lower East Side's waterfront hosted Manhattan's primary industrial district. Among dozens of factories and horse stables was one of the largest concentrations of coal, lumber and iron yards in the city. This map illustrates some of the larger companies operating by 1891, in the 11th and 13th Wards of the Lower East Side.
See "Alphabet City" in 1891: http://evhp.blogspot.com/2011/12/industrial-alphabet-city-1891.html
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
|Source: Directory of New York Charities, 1900|
You are probably asking yourself, "What on earth is a 'perambulating fountain'?"
|Source: Directory of |
New York Charities, 1900
Before refrigerators, running taps in every apartment and public fountains -- let alone bottled water -- there were horse-drawn wagons that toured the local slums during summer months, offering free ice and water to overheated citizens.
The first cart embarked on June 15, 1891, paid for and organized by the Moderation Society, a temperance-advocating charity organization founded on the Lower East Side in 1879.
It took the Moderation Society eleven years to secure the proper permits and political support to launch the water wagon initiative, which was paid for by donations to the organization.
By the 1910s, pro alcohol-abstinence organizations like the Salvation Army began what were essentially marketing campaigns -- highly publicized "water wagon parades" -- with the goal of recruiting "boozers" to "get on the wagon" (meaning, exchange booze for water).
A new American catch-phrase was adopted from campaigns like these; those who made pledges to quit drinking were considered "on the water wagon." And those who returned to alcohol were said to have "fallen off the water wagon" (since shortened to "on the wagon" and "off the wagon.")
Sunday, December 4, 2011
In the decades following the Revolutionary War, opportunists from across the globe poured into New York City seeking fortune in the Capital of the newly formed United States of America.
Anticipating a major growth in population, the modern day street grid was established in 1811, opening up two-thirds of previously uninhabitable Manhattan real estate. As industry boomed, the city (perhaps conveniently) opened its doors to laborers, Irish and German immigrants, former Southern slaves, and down-on-their-luck job seekers.
Many successful families migrated north, away from the heart of the commercial and industrial districts and a class-structure emerged in New York City for the first time -- exemplified by this 1864 illustration:.
To give you an idea of how dense that is, today there is an average of about 70,000 residents per square mile in Manhattan.
Overcrowding eased up early in the twentieth century when the city subway system (1908), Williamsburg Bridge (1903) and Manhattan Bridge (1909) opened, allowing entire communities to relocate and move freely between Manhattan and the outer boroughs.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
|Based on 1891 G. W. Bromley map|
By WWII most of these industries died out or relocated to the outer boroughs and the entire district was redeveloped during a post-war public housing initiative. Today "Alphabet City" is overwhelmingly residential.
Friday, December 2, 2011
These are some rare images relating to Steve Brodie, a man whose claim to fame was just that, a claim, that in 1886 he jumped from the Brooklyn Bridge and survived.
The following an excerpt from The Bowery: A History of Grit, Graft and Grandeur:
Brodie, a native Lower East Sider, was an outgoing, blusterous youth who earned the nicknames “Napoleon of Newsboys” and “George Washington of Blackbooters” because of the influence he had over other boys in the rowdy Fourth Ward. (Think Christian Bale in the 1992 movie-musical Newsies.) In one 1879 interview, sixteen-year-old Steve Brodie bragged about how he and other local “newsies” would band together to chase new competition out of their territory and complained about how Italians were taking all the bootblacking jobs.
A professional gambler as a young adult, Brodie fell into debt when he took on a dare to jump off the New York City landmark for $200—just months after daredevil Robert Odlum was killed while attempting the same stunt. As Brodie began to take full advantage of the publicity around his planned jump, a liquor dealer named Moritz Herzber offered to finance a saloon in Brodie’s name—if he survived.
On the morning of July 23, 1886, Brodie stood on the railing of the bridge while a couple of friends tested the waters below in a rowboat and news reporters gathered on a pier nearby. At 10:00 a.m., Brodie’s team called off the jump, claiming the tide was too strong. Brodie came down from the structure only to return about 2:00 p.m. that day,, when it is claimed he rode in the back of a wagon until he got about one hundred yards over the bridge, at which point he took off his hat and shoes and plunged over the railing into the East River.
Despite several “eyewitnesses” and lengthy news reports, most historians believe the jump was a hoax, theorizing that a friend threw a life-size dummy from the wagon that people mistook for Brodie amidst all the excitement. Brodie was arrested after being “rescued” from the water, but charges were dropped and he became an instant celebrity. Herzber made good on his promise, and Brodie’s saloon was opened at 114 Bowery. It also doubled as a museum dedicated to the stunt.
The public could not get enough of Steve Brodie, who went on to tour the country in vaudeville musicals Mad Money and On the Bowery, re-creating his famous leap for clamoring fans. Eventually, Brodie settled in Buffalo, New York, where he died from diabetes in 1901 at the young age of thirty-nine.
Steve Brodie’s stunt inspired a slew of pop culture references, including the 1933 Hollywood film The Bowery, in which fellow Lower East Sider George Raft portrayed Brodie in the lead role; and a 1949 Looney Tunes cartoon named Bowery Bugs, which re-imagines Bugs Bunny being the motivation for Brodie’s jump. The urban legend also inspired a popular saying: “pulling a Brodie.”
Thursday, December 1, 2011
210 E. 5th Street in 1892 (left), and today (right)
For close to half a century, this address hosted one of the city's most important union halls, Beethoven Hall. Between the late 1880s and late 1930s, several prominent organizations held meetings here: From the ILGWU and Federation of Labor, to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Jewish Socialist League of America.
Many high profile union leaders and politicos made rousing speeches here: from Emma Goldman and Johan Most to William Randolph Hearst.
Beethoven Hall played an important role in the Women's Suffrage movement and most citywide strikes of the era, as meetings here helped lead to sweeping changes in labor laws and Women's Rights. It also played a prominent role in the community during the General Slocum and Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire disasters.
Today, 210 E. 5th Street is a quiet residential building.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Did you know that Brooks Brothers, America's oldest mens retail store, got its start on the Lower East Side? These images are from its original store on the corner of Catharine and Cherry Street -- which opened in 1818! It moved from this location to Broadway and Grand Street in the late 1850s.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Did you know that Steinway & Sons was once located on the Lower East Side?
Though German immigrant Heinrich Steinway founded in the iconic company 1853 out of a small shop at 75 Varick Street, his sons opened an upscale showroom at 107-109 E. 14th Street in 1864.
In 1866, they opened Steinway Hall in the rear of the showrooms, which quickly became the center of New York City's cultural elite. The concert hall hosted the New York Philharmonic for a quarter of a century, until they moved to the newer Carnegie Hall in 1891.
(Images: left, Steinway ad from 1907; right, a photo of 107-109 E. 14th Street from 1892).
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Here is a map of major forts and artillery batteries in Lower Manhattan during the Revolutionary War.
In the Summer of 1776, George Washington's 10,000-strong Continental Army fortified Manhattan Island, concentrating five Brigades below Houston Street.
The only major road into the city at the time, the Bowery, was heavily barricaded and used to maneuver thousands and thousands of troops and supplies in and out of the largest Army encampment on Manhattan Island.
"Bunker Hill" was a heptagonal fort built atop a 100-foot elevation on the Bayard estate -- today the heart of Chinatown. This fort was fitted with six mortars and twelve cannons and provided a 360-degree view of Lower Manhattan.
Iconic martyr Captain Nathan Hale was stationed at Bunker Hill, before being captured by the British and hanged.
Learn more about the Lower East Side during the Revolution: "The Bowery: A History of Grit, Graft and Grandeur" http://www.amazon.com/
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Here is a chapter about the restaurant (with great images) from "Manhattan's Chinatown": http://books.google.com/
Thursday, September 1, 2011
|The Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, Iowa), April 19, 1920|
The combination of a severe housing shortage and immense population boom at the end of WWI led to waves of mass evictions for much of the city's working-class and working-poor population.
Motivated by a post-war interest in Manhattan real estate, unscrupulous landlords used loopholes in the housing laws in what surmounted to nothing less than class warfare; tenants were essentially extorted into paying over 25% more in rent or face eviction. Tens of thousands who could not pay were forced into homelessness.
The abandoned apartments were then rented for over four times the market value to "pleasure seekers" and people with "abundant war profits or earnings," according to a April 19, 1920 Telegraph-Herald (photo).
Over 73,000 families were registered as homeless by the Spring of 1920, many living in parks throughout the city in tents provided by the U.S. Army.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Known as a "second generation social reformer," Helen Hall (b. January 4, 1892) was the second director of the Henry Street Settlement between 1933 and 1967 -- succeeding Lillian Wald, who founded the esteemed settlement house in 1893.
During her three decades of service at Henry Street, Hall rallied to establish the organization's first mental hygiene clinic and family day camp, and spearheaded one of the nation's first programs for the impoverished elderly.
Hall's work was the subject of numerous articles throughout her lifetime and she is listed in several publications honoring important women in American history. In her spare time, the selfless administrator authored a handful of books, including the notable autobiography, "Unfinished Business in Neighborhood and Nation" (1971)
See it here on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Just five months after the "Uprising of the 20,000," when thousands of women bravely battled violence and arrest lobbying for a safe and equal work environment, the men gave it shot.
On July 7, 1910, over 50,000 male garment workers walked off the job, affecting over 1,800 shops and factories nation wide. The Lower East Side-founded ILGWU led tense negotiations on behalf of the strikers and an agreement was reached two months later on September 2.
The planning and sacrifices made by Lower East Side immigrants a century ago revolutionized the workplace for all Americans, leading to many things we may easily take for granted today: like eight hour days, 40 hour work weeks, overtime pay, health care, safety standards, break time, arbitration rights and much more.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
These original 1950s Sammy's on the Bowery cards, with autographs and snapshots of his parents, are true treasures.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Each 4th of July in the 1910s, homegrown icon Dr. Henry Moskowitz led a movement to inspire a patriotic spirit in the Lower East Side immigrant population.
Appointed by Mayor William Jay Wagner, Moskowitz's job was to "arouse" immigrants to "participate in the American Festival," according to a 1912 New Outlook magazine. The Mayor was concerned that "the immigrant often gets his first impression of this land of the free from those who seek to exploit his ignorance," and felt that the 4th of July was an "opportunity to bring home the higher mood of American Democracy."
Each year there were special celebrations, "monster parades," music and patriotic speeches targeting the East Side's immigrants and great crowds would gather to listen to readings of the Declaration of Independence.
Romanian-born/LES bred Dr. Moskowitz was the co-founder and director of the Madison Street Settlement House, co-founder of the NAACP, Triangle Factory Fire investigator, NYC Commissioner of Public Markets, and much more: http://en.wikipedia.org/
Friday, May 6, 2011
The Festival will include a three-day slate of symposia; an innovative StreetFest along the Bowery; and over eighty independent projects and public events.
Join LESHP's Rob Hollander as he explores how politics, economics, social trends and public policy created the Bowery streetscape, considering how policy affects community and context:
When: Sat, May 7th @ 12:00pm & Sun, May 8th @ 11:00am
Reservations: Not Required, you can pay your guide
Fee: $20 for the public, $10 with a Festival of Ideas schedule/brochure
Meet: Astor Place Cube, E.8th St and 4th Ave
Map/Directions: Click Here
Subway: 6 train to "Astor Place
Monday, March 21, 2011
The Skids? Not Hardly
Written by Marc Santora
Published March 18, 2011
New York Times
BEFORE the Bowery bums and urban blight, before the restaurant-equipment dealers flooded the sidewalks, before lighting stores illuminated storefront windows and before the area became known as a haven for punk rock, one of New York’s oldest thoroughfares fell into the cross hairs of real estate speculators. They helped transform it into one of the city’s ritziest addresses.
A century later, the speculators are back, and over the past few years the Bowery has undergone another transformation, one that in some ways recalls its heyday even as it risks erasing the markers of its past.
Where flophouses and derelict buildings once stood, luxury condominiums with prices of more than $2,000 per square foot are popping up. Empty lots, gas stations and family businesses have been swept away. Fancy hotels now charge upward of $400 a night for the privilege of crashing on the same Bowery where $4.50 bought a bed for the down and out. Luxury rental apartments — where one-bedrooms start around $4,000 a month — have replaced John McGurk’s long closed but not forgotten watering hole.
“Historically, what happens in New York City has almost always been reflected on the Bowery,” said Eric Ferrara, the director of the Lower East Side History Project and the author of “The Bowery: A History of Grit, Graft and Grandeur.”
“So in this age of high-rise condos and hotels, gourmet cupcakes and chichi boutiques, it is not surprising that the Bowery would be vulnerable to gentrification.”FULL ARTICLE: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/realestate/20cover-the-bowery.html
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
For more than 120 years, the identity of the infamous Whitechapel murderer has remained unknown. Now, astonishing new evidence revealed by retired UK police detective Trevor Marriot claims to have finally discovered the killer's true identity - a German merchant sailor.Teaming up with criminal psychologist Thomas Muller and a team of international experts, Marriott applies modern detective techniques to this century-old crime in an attempt to solve the apparently unsolvable case, and what he uncovers is truly remarkable. On a trail that takes him through Europe and into New York's Lower East Side, Marriott claims not only to have uncovered the identity of the Ripper but also the nature of his own grisly end. Read more from NATGEO.com