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Basquiat’s Place: How a Site of Mob Beef Became a Boutique Butcher Shop

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

Japan Premium Beef at 57 Great Jones Street. (Photo: Hanna Wallis)

Japan Premium Beef at 57 Great Jones Street. (Photo: Hanna Wallis)

Below the sparkling glint of a crystal chandelier, slabs of meat rest behind glass as if displayed in a museum. Each label is handwritten in gold ink on a black card, leaving a sense of mortal weight; something lost, commemorated, aggrandized.

The little butcher shop at 57 Great Jones Street lacks any trace of blood or a stained smock. It gives no hint of the secrets lurking in the building’s history, like an art icon’s untimely death or the 1905 murder that catalyzed the decline of the Italian mob in the Bowery. The shop’s unexpected elegance hides the death intrinsic to each of its products. Steaks appear as objects of art, an impression their price tags reinforce.

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Jonathan C. Stewart Dives into a Williamsburg Story On AMC’s Making of the Mob

Jonathan C. Stewart, actor who plays Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel in the new AMC series,The Making of the Mob (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Jonathan C. Stewart, actor who plays Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel in the new AMC series,The Making of the Mob (Photo: Nicole Disser)

We couldn’t have picked a better spot to meet Jonathan C. Stewart, the actor who plays notorious mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel on AMC’s new show, The Making of the Mob. The Williamsburg dive bar, Jr. & Son is located in the neighborhood where Bugsy was born and raised, but in a way it’s hard not to find in the place a spiritual home for Brooklyn mobster lore as well. A grumpy looking bartender sporting a gold chain, thin mustache, and what was left of his hair slicked back grumbled to his regulars in a naturally aggressive Brooklyn wise-guy intonation. “Huh, lifestyles of the rich and famous, eh?” he said gesturing with disdain towards the TV in the corner. The sun was still shining outside, but inside it felt like a rainy day.

Stewart is a genial Midwestern dude with an easy smile. Even with the help of a fedora, I had to squint hard to imagine him harnessing the violent energy to play a personality like Bugsy Siegel, a hot-headed mobster who had about as much blood on his hands as he had style. Keep Reading »

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Yellow Fever and Red Scare: the Very Colorful History of Knickerbocker Village

All week, we’re bringing you a series of deep dives into the surprising histories of storied addresses. Back to our usual after the New Year.

Aerial view of Knickerbocker Village  (Courtesy Downtown Express).

Aerial view of Knickerbocker Village (Courtesy Downtown Express).

I’d only been in New York two months when I first saw Knickerbocker Village. I was standing on the East River Bikeway facing Brooklyn marveling at the enormity of it all when suddenly a splash in the river interrupted my daydream.
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