A Lot about a plot

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‘A Strange Story’: How 160 Bleecker Went From Slum House to Bohemian Bastion

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

Evening in one of the courts in the Mills House, no. 1." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1902.

Evening in one of the courts in the Mills House, no. 1.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1902.

At the end of the 19th century, Ernest Flagg had a vision. Educated in the École des Beaux-Art in Paris, the young architect came back to New York in 1890 wanting to “reform the barbaric housing standards of the day.” Then he met banker and philanthropist Darius Odgen Mills, and before long Mills House No. 1, an inexpensive hotel for working men, opened in Greenwich Village in 1897.

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Nick’s Tavern, the Jazz Joint That Went Down Swinging

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

When Dick Hyman — “a living, breathing encyclopedia of jazz,” per NPR – was a Columbia student, he’d often travel to 7th Avenue and 10th Street in Greenwich Village to catch a glimpse of his heroes playing. Although there were plenty of jazz joints in the neighborhood, the place he loved most was Nick’s Tavern.

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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 Many Acts of the Academy of Music, a ‘Sanctum Sanctorum of High Culture’

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

The Academy of Music, on 14th Street and Irving Place. (Image: public domain)

The Academy of Music, on 14th Street and Irving Place. (Image: public domain)

New York City publisher Horace Greeley considered the Academy of Music opera house so ugly that he is reported to have asked how much it would cost to burn the place down. “If the price is not unreasonable,” he is said to have declared, “have it done and send me the bill.” Greeley got his wish in 1866, but the opera was rebuilt. Fifty more years would pass before the Academy of Music — the largest opera in the world when it opened 1854 — was finally demolished.

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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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