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Bootlegers, Stuyvesants, and Slovaks: The Colorful History of Blue and Gold’s Building

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

Blue and Gold. (Photo: Yun Cee Ng)

Blue and Gold. (Photo: Yun Cee Ng)

You could spend a night at Blue and Gold Tavern without ever hearing a single word of Ukrainian, but the beloved bar embodies the East Village’s enduring reputation as a hub for New York’s Ukrainian diaspora. It’s owned by three generations of the Roscishewsky family, and takes its name from the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

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Why Did the Members of an East Village Fishing Club Go ‘Down to a Watery Grave’?

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

A docked tugboat, early morning on the East River. Early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of NYPL)

A docked tugboat, early morning on the East River. Early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of NYPL)

On the morning of June 24, 1894, the Kirchner brothers — Charles, Frank, William and Gus — probably rode the elevated train from 72nd Street to what is today the East Village. On the way, they would’ve passed the headquarters of the Herring Fishing Club. They were members of the club, located inside of a tenement house at 55 First Avenue, but it’s possible that when they disembarked at the 1st Avenue station, they instead walked directly to Pier 6 on the East River, where they boarded the James D. Nichol, a tugboat the club had chartered for a daylong fishing trip.

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The Riots and Radicals of Walhalla Hall

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

A mugshot of the anarchist Emma Goldman after she was arrested in Chicago in 1901. (Photo: Chicago Police Department via Library of Congress)

A mugshot of the anarchist Emma Goldman after she was arrested in Chicago in 1901. (Photo: Chicago Police Department via Library of Congress)

New York City reporters already knew all about Emma Goldman when she spoke to a group of unemployed Jews at Golden Rule Hall on August 17, 1893, one of the many venues on the Lower East Side that was home to dancing, music and radical politics. “If you are hungry and need bread, go and get it!” she intoned. “The shops are plentiful and the doors are open.”

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A Church Sheds Neon on the East Village’s Immigrant Past

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

The neon cross on today's Father's Heart Ministries Church (Ilaria Parogni)

The neon cross on today’s Father’s Heart Ministries Church (Ilaria Parogni)

Late at night, red light splashes onto the sidewalk from a flashy neon cross affixed incongruously to the simple but elegant Gothic Revival façade of a red brick building on 11th Street between avenues A and B. “Jesus Saves,” it blares. Inside is the bustle of the Father’s Heart Ministries, where the work of the church’s succession of occupants over the past century and a half contradicts what that crass latter-day choice of illumination might otherwise portend.

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The Ghosts of Clinton Hall: Riots, Fire, and Scandal On Astor Place

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

The old Astor Place Opera House. (Public Domain)

The old Astor Place Opera House. (Public Domain)

In 2012, when attendees of an anarchist book fair scuffled with police and attempted to smash the windows of the Starbucks on Astor Place, the mayhem—far uptown from Occupy Wall Street’s demonstrations at Zuccotti Park— seemed to come out of nowhere. But it was hardly the first instance of unrest staged at the onetime site of the Astor Place Opera House. Opened in 1847, the opera house catered to the wealthy residents of the neighborhood, singing an aria of exclusivity that offended the general public. It later became the stage for the Astor Place Riot, a bloody clash born out of tension between the rich and the poor in the theater world that forced the Opera House to shutter its doors.

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Veselka Will Close On Christmas, Once Again Changing With the Times

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

Veselka in the late 1960s (Courtesy: Veselka)

Veselka in the late 1960s (Courtesy: Veselka)

Anyone who wants Veselka’s famous pierogies, borscht and blintzes on December 25 will just have to wait. For the first time in more than 60 years ago, Veselka, the 24-hour Ukrainian restaurant at 144 2nd Avenue will close on Christmas Day.

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The Ladies Who Lunched (and Noshed) at 156 Second Ave.

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

The southeast corner of Second Avenue and 10th Street today (Photo: Ilaria Parogni)

The southeast corner of Second Avenue and 10th Street today (Photo: Ilaria Parogni)

She shot him in the chin. Sigmund Bohn was on the third floor of Café Boulevard when Mary Olah materialized in front of him and pulled the trigger. It was December 20, 1904.

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‘Literally a Rat Hole’: How Seventh Street Squat Grew on a Governor’s Meadow

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

209 E 7 is tucked between Graffiti Baptist Church and the Lower East Side Ecology Center Garden. Credit: Nadeen Shaker)

209 E 7 is tucked between Graffiti Baptist Church and the Lower East Side Ecology Center Garden. Credit: Nadeen Shaker)

In late October, I emailed Fly, a resident of the former Seventh Street Squat, to tell her that I was able to find out when her home of two decades had been built. The six-story apartment building at 209 East 7th Street was completed in 1897. “Interesting!” she wrote back, “There is a marker on the top of our building commemorating 1899 as the year the building was completed.”

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The Loner, the Lover, and the Trap Door of the Merchant’s House

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

The doorway of Seabury Tredwell's house as it appeared in the 1930s (New York Public Library)

The doorway of Seabury Tredwell’s house as it appeared in the 1930s (New York Public Library)

By the time she died in 1984, Helen Worden Erskine had racked up an eclectic but impressive set of interviews. The longtime New York World society writer spoke with Prince Charles of England and presidents Eisenhower and Truman, among other political and cultural luminaries. But she was perhaps most famous for her fascination with the opposite end of society: recluses.

In the late 1930s, Erskine wrote a series of sensationalistic articles about the Collyer brothers, two wealthy hoarders who had all of Harlem talking. Erskine and other reporters launched their careers writing about the sordid details of the brothers’ lives and death, including the nearly month-long search for one of their bodies in 1947, which was eventually discovered in their home beneath piles of junk.

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Jeff Koons Balloon Bunny Bout to Make Fanciest Drug Store this Side of Heaven

Photo by Kavitha Surana

Photo by Kavitha Surana

As construction around Astor Place continues to make things noisy and horrible around Cooper Square — for real though, navigating those sidewalks is beginning to feel a little bit like a game of minefield —  there’s a little pocket of weird opening up this Sunday that hints toward a strange future for the area.

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Renderings of Extell’s ‘Poor Door’ Released at Community Meeting

Photo by Kavitha Surana

(Photo by Kavitha Surana)

Now that the pile drivers have finished work on the foundations of Extell’s controversial 80-story behemoth on 252 South Street (known as One Manhattan Square), it’s pretty much a done deal.

And last night, a group of Lower East Side residents gathered at the Manny Cantor Center not to protest, this time anyway, but to discuss the inevitable construction issues (like the ones we started seeing almost immediately with the Domino development) and learn more details about the affordable housing portion of the development. Adding to the interiors released a couple weeks ago which included designer bags, the new renderings depict even more things to make rich people feel comfortable, including what’s essentially a “poor door” or, in this case, an entirely separate building.

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Williamsburg Basement Collapses, Injuring Three Construction Workers

146 Wilson (Photo by Kavitha Surana)

146 Wilson (Photo by Kavitha Surana)

When Joshua Alvarado drops his son off at Public School 16 in the mornings, he often notices busy construction activity at the brick row houses on Wilson Street, across from the school. But he’s never expecting what happened this morning. At 9:15 a.m. firefighters rushed to the scene of a construction disaster at 146 Wilson Street on Williamsburg’s south side. After an illegal excavation project went wrong, the basement-level collapsed, injuring three construction workers.

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