A Lot about a plot

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How a Home For the Homeless Became a Celebrity Crash Pad

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.

295 East 8th Street (Daytonian.com)

295 East 8th Street (Daytonian.com)

An ad for apartment 2W, at 295 East 8th Street, calls it “the most WOW loft you’ll ever see, fit for anyone with a flair for the spectacular.” Matt Dillon once lived in the massive brick building at the corner of Avenue B, across from Tompkins Square Park.
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Pulling Back the Curtain On the Amato Opera House, Before Its Next Act

The Amato Opera in Sept. of 2014, before construction.

The Amato Opera in Sept. of 2014, before construction.

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.

It’s been five years since the Smallest Grand Opera in the World performed on top of a 20-foot-wide stage in downtown Manhattan. The tiny theater seated 107 people in total. But it had everything an opera house ought to have – a balcony, a trap door, and two beautiful chandeliers.
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The Whitehouse Hotel: a Home For Transients, Now in Transition

(Photo: Makini Brice)

(Photo: Makini Brice)

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.

The Whitehouse Hotel hasn’t been open since September 3, although a paper sign hanging in the window of the front door says the closure is only temporary. The end was so quick and unceremonious that even the hotel’s own website is still happily inviting prospective guests to billet at “the most affordable hostel with private accommodations in NYC.” Single rooms are on offer at rates as low as $30 a night. That is, until a look at the reservations calendar reveals consecutive dates colored in red for “unavailable” that stretch on to the end of 2015.
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Beneath Baruch Houses, a ‘Rough Block’ Wiped Off the Map

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.

Demolition in Progress 83-90 Goerck st, Rivington-stanton, 1934-1938. (By NY Tenement House Authority.)

Demolition in Progress 83-90 Goerck st, Rivington-stanton, 1934-1938. (By NY Tenement House Authority.)

Walk as far east on Houston Street as you can until lines of imposing brick towers shoot up over the river – about 27 acres of them. The streets no longer make sense in context and the lines don’t link up with the grid. It’s like you’ve passed into another city. Instead of the jumble of old-fashioned tenements with ladders hanging out the windows coexisting with storefronts and street life, you encounter 17 almost uniform towers with yards of greenery surrounding them – a luxury of space rarely seen in Manhattan. These buildings are tough, institutional even, with their glazed red brick to discourage vandalism, lines of bars in windows and signs that say, “Welcome to Bernard Baruch Houses” outside each building.
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‘You See It All’: The Wedding Mansion That Played Host to Warhol’s ‘Male Parade’

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.

Theatrical reappropriation in the second-floor theater. (Photo courtesy of Michelangelo Alasa.)

Theatrical reappropriation in the second-floor theater. (Photo courtesy of Michelangelo Alasa.)

As soon as Michelangelo Alasa heard that the theater on the second floor of 62 East 4th Street was up for rent, he grabbed a crowbar and moved toward the stairs. He swung open wooden doors on his way; his feet hit cracked, uneven white tile that on other occasions he’d stopped to admire. He made it to the stairs and began a slow, certain descent to the next floor. The marble stairway walls had been painted over since before his time, a murky indefinite color offensive mainly due to what it covered. It was 1996, and the time had come to liberate the remnants of the storied century-old theater and reclaim its striking heritage.
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From ‘The Witch’ to La MaMa: How Radical Art Tumbled into the East Village

UntitledAll 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.

The raucous audience inside Turn Hall grew increasingly impatient for the curtain’s rise. Police had just arrived at 66-68 East 4th Street, between Bowery and Second Avenue, to subdue the swelling mob at the door, those unfortunate souls without a ticket to see America’s first Yiddish play.

The spectators had paid a whopping five dollars for seats normally valued at 50 cents in 1882. Such was the excitement surrounding the sold-out performance of Koldunye, or The Witch. A production conceived of by the 13-year-old sweatshop worker named Boris Thomashefsky, the play brought professional Yiddish theater stateside, says historian Nahma Sandrow. But the real-life drama that night trumped the work of playwright Abraham Goldfaden: the leading lady had disappeared.
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Christmas With the Deadbeats at Boss Tweed’s Ludlow Street Jail

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.

The exterior of the Ludlow Street Jail in 1895. (Source: Museum of the City of New York)

The exterior of the Ludlow Street Jail in 1895. (Source: Museum of the City of New York)

Christmas Day dinner at the Ludlow Street Jail in 1911 was outrageous. The Warden Thomas J. Rock served a lavish spread (turkey, sweet potatoes, celery, fruits, plum pudding, coffee, and even a Union-made cigar) and his prisoners, moved by their keeper’s kindness, presented Rock with something unexpected — a sixteen-inch silver loving cup, which they had managed to smuggle into the jail undetected. One prisoner, a lawyer locked up for failing to make alimony payments to his wife, stood to toast the Warden and gushed with sentiment.
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The Secret Lair of Dr. Strange, His Creators, and a Ghost of Christmas Past

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.

A passerby casts a typical Dr. Strange magical spell.

A passerby casts a typical Dr. Strange magical spell.

If you walk past 177 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village and see a middle-aged guy in black clothes and a flowing red cape making a horn sign with both hands, watch out for the multi-dimensional mayhem about to be unleashed.

To us mere mortals, 177 Bleecker may be a stately Queen Anne-style apartment building that rises five stories above a busy Manhattan street. But in the Marvel universe, the building has long been the home of Dr. Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme who’ll be played by Benedict Cumberbatch in a hotly anticipated film. Since Marvel introduced the master magician to the comic world in the 1960s, he has lived in his Sanctum Sanctorum at 177 Bleecker Street, and much of the universe-threatening action perpetrated by the forces of darkness against our unsuspecting world has taken place within these walls.
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Inside St. John the Baptist, Brooklyn’s ‘Castle Out of the Past’

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.

St. John the Baptist, boarded up.

St. John the Baptist, boarded up.

St. John the Baptist is ghostly, towering moribund over a row of vinyl-sided apartment houses on Willoughby and Hart Streets. The 120-year-old granite edifice lies a stone’s throw from the Myrtle-Broadway stop in Bushwick — you can spot its cross-topped cupolas over Bed-Stuy’s roofs as the train pulls into the station. The Tablet called it “a castle out of the past.” And that was in 1968.
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The Story of Greenpoint’s ‘Onion’ Dome May Well Bring a Tear to Your Eye

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.

(Photo: Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration)

(Photo: Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration)

On a Saturday, as the sun begins to set over McCarren Park, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration’s exotic onion domes start spilling their distinctive shadows across the patch of greenery at the corner of North 12th and Driggs Avenue. At this time, the Cathedral’s weekly Vespers service begins with the spontaneity of a music box that has just had its crank released. Within seconds, the interior of the Cathedral goes from dimly lit tranquility to enrapturing sensuality. Light starts to refract out of the cathedral’s chandelier, its crystal shell bathing the walls with a warm golden glow. The religious art includes numerous icons of Christ, all illumined, and the myriad of intricately painted pairs of eyes now seem to gaze down upon the congregation with an enigmatic stare. The air hangs heavy with a combination of angelic choral sounds and the smoky, aromatic fragrance of burning incense.
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