Monday, February 20, 2012

Prison to Pad Thai, Bleecker building has seen it all

From The Villager, 2/16/12, by Eric Ferrara
On the afternoon of Feb. 24, 1813, at the height of the War of 1812, the U.S.S. Hornet, an 18-gun warship, set its sights on a British sloop anchored on the Demerara River in Guyana, South America.

While navigating a sandbar at the river’s mouth to position itself for an attack, the Hornet found itself sandwiched between two enemy ships as the man-o’-war H.M.S. Peacock approached from the Caribbean Sea. Hornet commander James Lawrence opted to engage the equal-sized Peacock — disabling it in less than 15 minutes after a short but fierce artillery exchange. The Peacock quickly sank, though many survivors were rescued by the Hornet’s American crew.

It wasn’t until April that the Hornet returned to U.S. soil with her prisoners of war, who were brought to New York City and confined in an old, three-story, wooden structure at the southeast corner of Bleecker and Bank Sts. referred to as the “Barracks.”