A Lot about a plot

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Before the Spate of LES Towers, There Was Confucius Plaza

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

(Photo by Jesse Coburn)

(Photo by Jesse Coburn)

Shopkeepers across the Bowery tracked its progress: 42 stories, 43, and finally 44. Pedestrians on Canal Street craned their necks up to take in the expanse of brick that stretched across the slow curve of its facade.

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75 Years After It Pushed Out the Pushcarts, Essex Street Market Presses Forward

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

Left: The Essex Street Market one month after opening (Courtesy of the New York Public Library). Right: The market in present day (Photo by Alexandra Hall)

Left: The Essex Street Market one month after opening (Courtesy of the New York Public Library). Right: The market in present day (Photo by Alexandra Hall)

Six inches of snowfall coated Manhattan on January 10, 1940, the day 3,500 New Yorkers gathered on Essex Street for the opening of a brand new public retail space that would change the face of the Lower East Side.  

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Drom, a World-Music Oasis in a Sea of Urban Renewal

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

New York Gyspy All Stars, playing their album release show at Drom. (Photo: Kat Thornton)

New York Gyspy All Stars, playing their album release show at Drom. (Photo: Kat Thornton)

Earlier this month, a funky clarinet tune spilled out of a basement beneath a falafel store on Avenue A. Down the stairs, inside of Drom, the New York Gypsy All Stars were celebrating the release of their second album. The band’s four core members come from Greece, Macedonia, and Turkey, and their keyboard players hail from Chile, Cuba, Switzerland, and the United States. As they played songs that, by the band’s description, cover “all the Balkans melodically,” and “the world rhythmically and harmonically,” a large image of Istanbul’s iconic Galata Tower hangs in the background.

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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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