a lot about a plot

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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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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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‘Literally a Rat Hole’: How Seventh Street Squat Grew on a Governor’s Meadow

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

209 E 7 is tucked between Graffiti Baptist Church and the Lower East Side Ecology Center Garden. Credit: Nadeen Shaker)

209 E 7 is tucked between Graffiti Baptist Church and the Lower East Side Ecology Center Garden. Credit: Nadeen Shaker)

In late October, I emailed Fly, a resident of the former Seventh Street Squat, to tell her that I was able to find out when her home of two decades had been built. The six-story apartment building at 209 East 7th Street was completed in 1897. “Interesting!” she wrote back, “There is a marker on the top of our building commemorating 1899 as the year the building was completed.”

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Happy 80th Birthday to America’s ‘First Experiment’ in Public Housing

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.

First Houses, on the corner of Avenue A and East 3rd Street. (Photo: Lindsey Smith.)

First Houses, on the corner of Avenue A and East 3rd Street. (Photo: Lindsey Smith.)

The sleet beating down on East 3rd Street in January 1935 didn’t stop any of the hopeful applicants from standing in line for hours between 1st Avenue and Avenue A outside the office of the New York City Housing Authority. During the Great Depression people had gotten used to life in the queue. They did it for jobs, for public benefits, and for food. But this time the reason was altogether different.
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How the City’s First Community Garden Sprang From ‘Evil and Blackness’

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: D.M. Mackey)

(Photo: D.M. Mackey)

A walk past the place where the Bowery meets East Houston gives not the slightest hint that until 40 years ago, this lush, fresh air respite called the Liz Christy Community Garden sheltered everyone from immigrants to swindlers, eventually deteriorating by the middle of the 20th century into an abandoned, garbage-strewn lot. In 1973, a group of local college students hauled away the trash, lay dirt and planted seeds. Later, the plot took the name of the art student who spearheaded the project.
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‘Cooper Square Is Here to Stay,’ But First They Had to Go On the Warpath

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.

Cooper Square Protest Banner during the 1960s. Courtesy Cooper Square Committee.

Cooper Square Protest Banner during the 1960s. Courtesy Cooper Square Committee.

The buildings themselves never had many allies. Repeatedly condemned to death, 13 East Third Street, like its 20-odd siblings, stands in spite of itself, renovated rather than replaced. “I’m not a fan of them,” Val Orselli says as we peer out at an antique tenement from a window in his office.
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Behind Bars: How a Police Station House Became a Speakeasy

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: Shanna Ravindra for NY Mag)

(Photo: Shanna Ravindra for NY Mag)

Given the history of the building at 105-107 Eldridge Street, it’s no surprise that the bartender at Fontana’s, the otherwise-laid back establishment at 105, checks everyone’s ID meticulously. Among the Chinese-owned vegetable shops and beside a discount sushi restaurant, the place is a bit of an anomaly on the border of Chinatown, near the Grand Ave. B, D stop. But the 146-year-old building has deep neighborhood ties that entwine law, liquor, and vice.
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Yellow Fever and Red Scare: the Very Colorful History of Knickerbocker Village

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.

Aerial view of Knickerbocker Village  (Courtesy Downtown Express).

Aerial view of Knickerbocker Village (Courtesy Downtown Express).

I’d only been in New York two months when I first saw Knickerbocker Village. I was standing on the East River Bikeway facing Brooklyn marveling at the enormity of it all when suddenly a splash in the river interrupted my daydream.
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