This week, we continue our series of deep dives into the histories of storied addresses.The bullet tore through John Muller’s chest just above his left clavicle, fracturing the bone into small splinters that lacerated surrounding flesh and vein. The lead ball lodged in his neck between the trachea and the esophagus. His right temple was swollen and abloom in blackened bruises. Police officers had bludgeoned him, witnesses said, just outside his home at 29 Avenue A. But it was the gunshot, the coroner testified, that killed John Muller on July 11, 1857.
Muller died in the basement of what is now 33 Avenue A between Second and Third Streets. Today, the plot houses Joyful Nail Salon flush with clients reclined on taupe leatherette pedicure chairs. A sign outside advertises color gel and manicures. Just above, public housig apartments have long since replaced the original 19th century tenement building. But to peel past that lacquered exterior is to reveal the plot’s history long since erased. A history of the East Village when it was German-speaking Kleindeutschland with tenement houses lining Avenue A; of a city in turmoil in the summer of 1857; of a riot in the 17th ward; of a clash between police and a largely immigrant community; of a man shot dead.