Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nearly 90 years of Lower East Side history in 5 minutes (or so)


[Window Shade Repairman, St. Marks Place, New York, 1938, by Joe Schwartz. Via Stephen Cohen Gallery]

I was just looking through the archives from 1851-1980 at the Times. (Bought a few articles for some research.) There's a handy free preview with each article that let's you see the headline, date published, author and first paragraph. (While looking at the first paragraph, I was reminded of my first day in a newswriting class, when my professor told us that, with a strong lead, someone doesn't need to read the rest of the article.)

In any event, here are some kind-of random headlines and first paragraphs of articles from the Times that span nearly 90 years. This isn't meant as an exhaustive LES history, just a snapshot that provides a slice-of-life of, uh, life in the neighborhood . . . as well as its subsequent cultural transformation.

• SPLIT ON THEOSOPHY'S ROCK; MORE TROUBLE IN THE WILSON INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL. Resignation of the Matron, Mrs. Armstrong, and of Miss Kirkwood, a Teacher, Requested at a Hurriedly-Called Meeting Lost Friday -- The School, Left Almost Without Teachers, Ordered Closed -- Managers Have Taken Sides, and Serious Dissension Is in Prospect.
June 26, 1893

The spread of Theosophy among the Faculty of the Wilson Industrial School for Girls, at St. Mark's Place and Avenue A. has culminated in the dismissal of two other teachers and the indefinite closing of the school.

• PARKHURST RAID SUCCEEDS; Evidence Against a Tammany Man Discovered in St. Mark's Place -- Inspector Thompson Finds Little.
March 9, 1900

Marked contrast was shown between two raids of alleged poolrooms in this city yesterday. When agents of the Society for the Prevention of Crime, of which the Rev. Dr. Charles H. Parkhurst is President, swooped down upon a place at 9 St. Mark's Place they surprised more than 300 men and boys, and caught two alleged principals with money in their hands, and also seized a wagonload of poolroom paraphernalia.

• GAMBLERS RESIST RAID.; Throw Furniture at Detectives Who Enter Resort in St. Mark's Place.
May 9, 1912

Lieut. Becker and nine members of the "Strong Arm" squad drove up to 6 St. Mark's Place yesterday afternoon in a moving van, sprang from it, and ran up to the second floor of the house, where they found themselves confronted by an icechest door. While they battered at this with axes several shots were fired from inside the room and the detectives fired back. No one was hit.

• CHIEF AND GANGMEN HELD FOR MURDER; 'Dopey' Benny's Crowd Rounded Up and Charged with Killing Court Clerk Straus. MITCHEL AND McKAY ACT Mayor Will Give Police More Power -- Capt. Sweeney Suspended for Neglect.
January 11, 1914

Edward Morris, better known as "Fat Bull," a former Special Deputy Sheriff and official "bouncer" of Arlington Hall at 19-23 St. Mark's Place, before which Frederick Straus, a clerk of the City Court, was shot and killed on Friday evening; broke down last night under questioning by Second Deputy Commissioner Dougherty and Inspector Faurot.

• OLD ESTATE SALE.; St. Mark's Place Holdings of Wealthy Goldbeater at Auction.
February 28, 1915

Three tenements on St. Mark's Place (East Eighth Street) will be sold in the Vesey Street Salesroom by Joseph P. Day on Tuesday. Over half a century ago St. Mark's Place and Second Avenue were as fashionable residential thoroughfares as could be found in the city. The property is to be sold for the Nicholas Schultz estate.

• 12-FOOT WALL HIDES ONCE DAZZLING SHOP; It Is Designed to Check an Exodus of Doctors from St. Mark's Place. CONCEALS A SODA OASIS Menchell's Methods of Attracting Trade Became Unpopular with Medical Neighbors.
August 26, 1915

When the shop of Isrial Menchell at 13 St. Mark's Place, which dispenses candy, soda water, cigarettes, and souvenir postal cards to the inhabitants of that particular section of Manhattan Island, began to thrive and prosper some eight months ago, Menchell's neighbors, instead of showing pleasure at this prosperity, were inclined to carp and criticise.

• BLACK HAND PANICS SPREAD IN SCHOOLS; Three More Scares in One Day -- Police and Teachers Hunt the Troublemakers. LOLLYPOPS PARTLY BLAMED Black Candy in Shape of Hand Sold to Children -- Excited Mothers Add to Disorder.
June 18, 1926, Friday

Stirred by three more Black Hand panics in schools on the lower east side of Manhattan yesterday, in one of which 2,300 children and almost as many mothers and friends milled about the building in excited mobs, Police Commissioner George V. Mclaughlin and Superintendent of Schools William J. O'Shea took active steps yesterday afternoon to bring the scare to an end.

• FOUND WITH DYNAMITE, HELD IN PALMIERI CASE; Subway Blaster's Helper Had Fashioned Bomb, but Says It Was for Fishing Expedition.
March 6, 1927

A man who identified himself as George Falley, 40 years old, of 414 East Ninth Street, a blaster's helper in the subway, was arrested in a furnished room at 63 St. Mark's Place yesterday afternoon on the charge of having dynamite in his possession illegally, which is a felony.

• SNOWFALL A BOON TO THE JOBLESS; 300 at The Tub Are Put to Work Clearing Streets and Ledoux Postpones Auction. HE OUTFITS HIS WARDS Bankers' Journal Says One Cause of Unemployment Is Strikes In Coat Fields.
March 10, 1928

Because the Street Cleaning Department needed snow shovelers, the scheduled auction of unemployed by Urbain (Zero) Ledoux, in his shelter, The Tub, 12 St. Mark's Place, did not take place yesterday afternoon.

• RECEIVER DEBATED FOR 'MR. ZERO'S' $37; Court Decrees It Must Act for "the Tub's" Rent if There Is a Bank Account. FUNDS NOT HIS, HE SAYS But Counsel for Landlord Seeking $7,345 Contends Contributions Were Pledged by Ledoux.
June 10, 1931

Urban J. Ledoux, who as Mr. Zero carries on relief work for Bowery derelicts, appeared before Supreme Court Justice Walsh yesterday to oppose an application by Mrs. Anna M. Brindell for the appointment of a receiver for his property in an effort to collect something on a judgment for $7,345 obtained against Ledoux a year ago for rent of The Tub at 12 St. Mark's Place.

• FINDS LOWER EAST SIDE SUITED ONLY TO RICH; Housing Expert Says Land Value Demands Costly Dwellings -- Doubtful of Present Plans.
March 18, 1932

Addressing the housing section of the Welfare Council last night, Carol Aronovici, housing and town-planning expert, decried the efforts to rehabilitate the lower east side as a residential area for the poor.

• CROWD AT WEDDING STAMPEDED BY FIRE; ONE KILLED, 40 HURT; 250 Rush for Exits of Hall as Flames Start in Canopy Over Head of Bride-to-Be.
June 16, 1935

Fire that started in the canopy beneath which the bride-to-be was sitting, just before the wedding ceremony was to have begun, drove 250 relatives and friends into a stampede for the exits of a first-floor hall of The Mansion, 57 St. Mark's Place, just before last midnight.

• Nine Persons Routed From Tenement Homes When Wall Cracks, Threatening Collapse
March 10, 1938

Nine persons, imperiled by a cracked wall that caused an inspector to declare the building in danger of collapse, were ordered from their homes in an old-law tenement at 82 St. Mark's Place last night, while the police roped off the sidewalk to keep passers-by from possible injury.

• Changes Are Noted in Lower East Side; Indoor Markets Eliminating Pushcarts
February 21, 1939

The lower East Side of Manhattan is in the public eye these days. This old neighborhood south of Fourteenth Street is undergoing many changes which realty men and property owners hope will help to bring about the long-awaited revival of interest in the district.

• Fewer Tenements on the Lower East Side Now Unprotected Against Hazard of Fire
August 8, 1940

Thousands of tenants of old buildings on the lower East Side of Manhattan below Fourteenth Street are living in quarters which are much safer from fire hazards than they were a year ago.

• Mecca Theatre on Ave. A Sold for $170,000; Site Included in East Side Housing Project
April 23, 1943

The Mecca Theatre and the adjoining stores occupying the west side of Avenue A from Fourteenth to Fifteenth Street, have been acquired by the Acropolis Holding Corporation, a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, as part of the site for the big post-war housing project which the insurance company will erect on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

• COURT SANCTIONS STUYVESANT TOWN; High State Bench Approves Building of 'Walled City' on East Side After War
December 3, 1943

By a vote of 4 to 2, the Court of Appeals refused today to enjoin the building in the post-war period, of Stuyvesant Town, the eighteen-block "walled city" planned by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company on Manhattan's lower East Side

• HOLD-UP SUSPECTS CAPTURED IN STORE; Police Balk 3 Armed Men as They Line Up Victims in St. Mark's Place Shop
January 29, 1946

Balked by a patrolman breaking in through a side door, three armed hold-up men who were lining up eight victims in the rear of a candy store at 102 St. Marks Place, near First Avenue, were captured yesterday and one of them was shot when he made a dash for freedom.

• AIR RAID TEST SET IN EAST SIDE AREA; Drill Tomorrow Evening Will Be Based on Assumed Atom Bomb Drop 3 Miles Away
June 24, 1954

A four-block area on the lower East Side, just above Manhattan Bridge, will be the center tomorrow night of the third annual Civil Defense training exercise in this city.

• Our Changing City: :Old Lower Manhattan Area; New East Side Housing Provides Most of Difference in the Last 25 Years
June 24, 1955

The oldest part of New York -- from Fourteenth Street southward --looks and is pretty much as it was twenty-five years ago with one spectacular exception.

• CAR KILLS 1, HURTS 7; Plows Into Pedestrians on Sidewalk on East Side
November 27, 1961

A man was killed and seven other persons were injured yesterday when a station wagon mounted a sidewalk at St. Mark's Place and Avenue A on the East Side, struck pedestrians, smashed a fire hydrant and then hit a car that rammed a third car.

• It's Stupendous, Colossal Tiny; It's a Circus With Clowns and Animals and Even Poetry on St. Mark's Place
By GAY TALESE
December 21, 1961

St. Mark's Place, a rather bizarre street of the avant garde and Russian bath rubbers, was made no less whimsical yesterday by the sight of a llama staring languidly down from a window at pedestrians below.

• Black Jeans to Go Dancing at the Movies: It's Inevitable
April 11, 1966

WHAT does one wear to go dancing at the movies? Anything.

• THE NEW BOWERY: AN ERA OF CHANGE Shops, Theaters and Artists Drift Down the Street
October 16, 1966

The Bowery is slowly changing. Theaters and antique stores are to be found on the dismal thoroughfare and at the intersection Cooper Square at its northern end. Artists who once only rented lofts on the Bowery have begun to purchase and convert buildings; the number of studios increases yearly.

• TALK IS STRANGE IN EAST VILLAGE; Drug Users Are 'Heads' and a 'Bag' Is an Event
April 16, 1967

"This is the real bag. The scene here is where it's at and we don't need any outsiders. We've all sees shrinks and they couldn't help us. We have to find out ourselves where our head is and then we're O.K."Crime and Violence Are Commonplace in Nether World of Lower East Side March 20, 1969To the casual observer, the Lower East Side block where a youth was tortured and burned to death this week is a grimy string of dingy tenements, murky storefronts and nondescript industrial establishments.

• Swinging in the East Village Has Its Ups and Downs; UPS AND DOWNS IN EAST VILLAGE
July 15, 1967

Hundreds of Negroes and whites from all over the city and from Connecticut, New Jersey and Long Island are converging in the East Village these nights to dance at the old Polish National Hall building at 23 St. Mark's Place.

• 500 HIPPIES DANCE AND PLANT A TREE; St. Mark's Place Jammed as Police Watch Patiently
August 13, 1967

Five hundred hippies and hangers-on jammed St. Marks Place near Third Avenue for about two hours late last night. They danced, shouted and planted a 5-foot evergreen in the middle of the street.

• Downtown Boutique For Uptown Crowd
January 5, 1968

THERE'S no one named Gussie or Becky at Gussie Becky. Ruth Graves, designer and owner of the boutique at 20 St. Mark's Place, just likes to play with names. Now there's a new Gussie Becky up one flight at 717 Lexington Avenue (between 57th and 58th Streets).

• 60 Hippies in a Bus See the Sights of Quaint Queens
September 23, 1968

A group of East Village hippies who became annoyed with the increasing number of tourist buses visiting St. Mark's Place turned the tables with a vengeance yesterday.

• For Many Hippies, Christmas Means Emptiness; HIPPIES' LAUGHTER MASKS EMPTINESS
December 26, 1968

A raw wind rattled the gates of the closed stores along St. Mark's Place yesterday. The street was cold and empty and filthy.

• Not a Boy, Not a Girl, Just Me'
November 2, 1969

JACKIE CURTIS, 21, 5 feet 11 inches, gender male, "not a boy, not a girl, not a faggot, not a drag queen, not a transsexual -- just me, Jackie," grooving down St. Mark's Place in miniskirt, ripped black tights, clunky heels, chestnut curls, no falsies ("I'm not trying to pass as a woman"), Isadora scarf gallantly breezing behind her, is the newest playwright to make the Off Off Broadway scene.

• You Don't Have to Be High
December 28, 1969

IT's 2 A.M. at the Fillmore East, just down freaky Second Avenue from St. Mark's Place, and John Mayall, lanky in white bell-bottoms and a headband, is going "chicka-chicka" into his harmonica and driving the audience wild.

• 'VELVET' ROCK GROUP OPENS STAND HERE
July 4, 1970

SAN FRANCISCO: The Velvet Underground was playing experimental rock in 1965 when the Beatles just wanted to hold your hand and San Francisco was still the place where Tony Bennett left his heart.

• W.H. Auden Plans to Move Back Home to England
February 7, 1972

Another great institution is leaving New York City -- a one-man corporation of letters named W. H. Auden.

• Rock Meets Disco: Where To Try It; Rock Meets Disco: Where To Try It The Mudd Club Hurrah Trude Heller Now The Rocker Room Club 57 and Studio 10
April 27, 1979

THERE'S a different sort of disco in Manhattan these days, and its proliferation shows every sign of becoming a genuine trend. These "new wave" discotheques are still mostly large, dark places with flashing lights and eager crowds dancing to pulsating, heavily amplified music. But the music they are dancing to isn't disco; it's rock-and-roll.

• The Pop Life; Growth, change and David Johansen.
August 17, 1979

ROCK-AND-ROLL can be a cruel profession, enforcing stylistic limits on those who'd like to grow and branding others as losers before they've even had a chance to win.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Friday the 13th, June 2008 -- The death of the East Village.
The protest of the native East Villagers on the opening of the Bowery Bar fell on deaf ears and was pretty much ignored by the yunnies and yuppies. This signified the end of the East Village as we know it. Days, weeks, and months later, the buildings of condominiums, luxe boutiques and restaurants continued on displacing all the establishments and the character that made the East Village the East Village. And after the election of Keith McNally to succeed Blomberg as NYC's mayor, there was no turning back to the bohemian days of the EV. After all, how does one contend to the yunnies' and yuppies' weapon of money, power, wealth and the the power to ignore?

EV Grieve said...

Mayor McNally?

AHH!