Wednesday, March 18, 2009

At the Tub, Christmas 1933



From an archival photo from Corbis dated 1933. Here's the original caption:

Homeless and Unemployed Men Eating at Relief Center
Mr. Zero A Real Santa To Them. Nearly 5,000 homeless and unemployed men were the guest of Urbain Ledoux (Mr. Zero), at a Christmas Day dinner served by him in his haven for the needy, called the Tub at 33 St. Mark's Place, New York City. The principal item was Mulligan stew, made of turkey, chicken, goose and squabs, and how they enjoyed it. Here are some of the needy "digging in" at the savory meal prepared for them.


33 St. Mark's Place is now home to, among other things, Rockit Science Records.

(Hat tip, Mick)

[Image: via Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS]

6 comments:

NYCDreamin said...

Love the photo, EVG. Inspired me to do some digging on Mr. Ledoux...

28 ST. MARKS PLACE:
In 1930, a cheap-lodging house and greasy-spoon diner named The Tub inhabited this building. The owner was Urbain Ledoux, who referred to himself as “Zero”, and offered 5-cent meals and 25-cents a night lodging to the area's growing homeless population.

A charitable fellow, Zero held an open house in April 1930 to celebrate Easter. Reports say that more than 5000 “jobless men from the Bowery” dined on “mulligan stew, pie and coffee”.

Mr. Zero and the Tub seems to have popped up at more than one location during this time period, and met resistance every step of the way. The Tub was evicted from 17 St. Marks Place in 1924, due to non-payment of rent, and closed down by the board of health at yet another location at 12 St. Marks Place in 1928.

and more...

19 January 1925, New York Times
"The Tub is one of the cleanest restaurants in New York, where you can get meals for 5 cents -- all you can eat."

27 November 1925, New York Times
"All You Can Eat for a Nickel."

Urban J. Ledoux -- better known as "Mr. Zero" -- introduced a novelty in the form of a 5-cent turkey dinner. He fed turkey dinners at "The Tub" in the basement of 33 St. Marks Place, on the basis of "All you can eat for a nickel," and said that he was able to break even financially. Dealers furnished the turkey and trimmings at cost, the cooks volunteered, the diners waited on themselves, there was no overhead and and at the end of the day the ledger showed no red ink marks, according to Zero, who claims credit for the world's greatest achievement with the 5-cent piece.

...I'll be doing some more research for information on this guy. Seems like he was on a mission...

Mykola Dementiuk said...

NYCDreamin, Very nice research. Show's the street really did belong to the down and outers...George Orwell would've been proud of your work. My hats off to to you!

Mick

hntrnyc said...

Kudos to both Grieve and Dreamin', love this stuff. With my kitchen chops maybe I will be pressed into service to create meatloaf and casserole for the locals if the economy continues to tank..

NYCDreamin said...

Thanks for the Kudos guys.
I kept digging and came up with this gem from 1930: "The Street of Forgotten Men" in which (near the end of the clip) you can see some unemployed men taking a meal in one of "Mr. Zero's" soup kitchens, (probably NOT the Tub, as this footage seems to have been shot on the Bowery.) Enjoy...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNdBKubxlV8

Mykola Dementiuk said...

Wow! Very sad but nice too. I remember in the '60s the Bowery looked like the wasted Bowery and not a yuppie hangout...

EV Grieve said...

Excellent background, NYCDreamin...this deserves its own post...thanks!