A Lot about a plot

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From Grand Pianos to Sign Language, a History of Sound at 237 East 23rd Street

This week, we continue our series of deep dives into the histories of storied addresses.

At the end of the 19th century, the piano factory of Helmuth Kranich and his partner Jacques Bach at 237 East 23rd Street was flourishing. The partners could hardly have known, as they imported exotic woods for the instruments they crafted and took out ads in the local papers, what challenges the coming decades would bring.

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As Farm and Factory, 670 Broadway Was a ‘Rendezvous for the Wealthy Set’

This week, we continue our series of deep dives into the histories of storied addresses.

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

At the northeast corner of Broadway and Bond stands a most imperial structure. In 1874, when Brooks Brothers opened its newest location at this address, the New York Times declared 670 Broadway to be “an ornament to the street.” Four years later, the noted architect Rev. Dr. Samuel Osgood called it “the finest business edifice in New York.”

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Off of Tompkins Square Park, a Site of Women’s Tragedy and Agency

This week, we continue our series of deep dives into the histories of storied addresses.

315 East 10th Street. (New York Department of Taxes, Records for Block 404, Lot 48).

Elizabeth McCormick and Julia Gross likely never met. But, as students at the “well known” St. Brigid’s Academy at 315 East 10th Street, they both made the same walk between Avenues A and B to a rowhouse nestled in the center of the block. They would have looked up and seen the same quatrefoils leaflets visible today on the molding of the rusty-brown parapet and around the front door. Perhaps, like wistful students all across the city, the girls stared dreamily out of one of the nearly dozen windows overlooking Tompkins Square Park, half-listening to lessons on Dutch immigration to the city or how the land the school stood on was once a farm that Petrus Stuyvesant, the director-general of the Dutch West India Company, had owned.

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A Recently Desecrated Synagogue Was Once Home to a Lower East Side Villain

This week, we continue our series of deep dives into the histories of storied addresses.

(Photo: Simone Somekh)

At 5pm on a cold Friday evening, a couple dozen men, most wearing black suits, walk towards a red brick, four-story building near Clinton Street on East Broadway. On the facade next to the entrance, large, dark-red and white marks suggest painted-over graffiti. The men do not seem to notice. Above them is a painted sign in Yiddish. Some briefly kiss the fingers of their right hand after touching the mezuzah affixed to the doorpost. As they pass through the narrow entrance, they also enter the Shabbat, the holiest day of the week for observant Jews.

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Trotsky, Auden, and the Abortionist: The Radical History of 77 St. Marks

This week, we continue our series of deep dives into the histories of storied addresses.

Novy Mir‘s basement office at 77 St. Marks Place (Photo: Lewis Hine)

Leon Trotsky disembarked at New York harbor on January 13, 1917, expelled from Europe for agitating against World War I. His family would settle in the Bronx and call New York home for nearly three months.

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From Mobsters to Mekas: A Courthouse’s Second Act as Anthology Film Archives

This week, we continue our series of deep dives into the histories of storied addresses.

Courtesy of AnthologyFilmArchives.org.

The building at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Second Street that now houses the Anthology Film Archives has always been a crossroads, both symbolically and literally. This “international center for the preservation, study and exhibition of film and video” came into being in 1969 as a counter-thrust to Hollywood, making its focus American independent and avant-garde cinema.

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Greenpoint’s Astral Apartments, a Tumultuous Refuge for the Working Class

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

The Astral’s Franklin Street exterior

The Astral in Greenpoint has status in the National Register of Historic Places and as a New York City landmark, but not for the murder and mayhem that has emanated from 184 Franklin Avenue since its completion as housing for Charles Pratt’s employees link 131 years ago, in 1886.

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The Feud Between the Millionaire and the ‘King of the Hoboes’

This week, we continue with our series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

Jeff Davis, self-proclaimed King of Hoboes, pictured in the January 16, 1913 Tacoma Times. Image courtesy of Washington State Library, Olympia, WA, via Chronicling America.

Jeff Davis, self-proclaimed King of Hoboes, pictured in the January 16, 1913 Tacoma Times. (Image courtesy of Washington State Library, via Chronicling America.)

Heckles and howls echoed through the meeting rooms of 64 East 4th Street on February 1, 1913. “Down with How and his postage stamp philanthropy!” yelled Jeff Davis, the self-proclaimed King of the Hoboes. “He has never given us any of his mythical millions!”

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How Sex Sold Songs in New York’s Early Theater Days

This week, we continue with our series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

View of 444 Broadway as The Olympic Theatre, year unknown. Photo courtesy of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

View of 444 Broadway as The Olympic Theatre, year unknown. Photo courtesy of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

James Norman knew exactly what he was doing when he walked into 444 Broadway in the spring of 1862. And the woman he shot knew, too. The music was loud, drinks were flowing, and he was a jilted man. He gave $100 dollars (a hefty sum in 1862) to buy furniture to his fiancée Kate White, a waitress at the concert saloon on the ground floor of the building. She ran away with the money, never to be heard from again. They had met one of the many times he must have come in drunk, sweaty, and groping. It’s not hard to imagine why she took the money and ran.

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