Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Terminated Salvation

With the new hotel in the works for 347 Bowery ... (the one Alex thinks looks as if it has a "bad case of acne"), I wanted to quickly document the previous tenant before the fabulous foodies, hotshot hoteliers and squealing scenesters arrive...

The Salvation Army's East Village Residence closed here at East Third Street in August 2008.

Jack Henry Abbott wrote a short story titled "On the Bowery" about his stay here in the summer of 1981. (I wrote about Abbott and 347 Bowery here.) Here's a snippet of Abbott's story:

I noticed a body laying stretched out on the sidewalk against a rundown building. And then another and another and another. The bodies of sleeping derelicts were scattered liberally around the sidewalks and on the stoops on buildings. It took my by surprise. My mind was blank. I finally thought: "What the hell is this?"

As the invaluable Forgotten New York writes about the Bowery and the Salvation Army:

The expressions "on the wagon" and "off the wagon" had their origins on the Bowery where Evangeline Booth (whose father founded the Salvation Army), used to send a horse-drawn wagon onto the throroughfare to pick up drunks and bring them to an Army facility where they could dry out and hopefully put their lives together.

Read more on Forgotten New York's Bowery tour here.

And it's pretty amazing that the tera cotta SA initials have held up through the years...

...much better than the Fallout Shelter sign...

And a look at who this once served...

Original caption: A group of homeless and jobless habitues of the Bowery enjoying their buttermilk, sold at a very small cost at the Salvation Army Buttermilk Bar. The bar was opened as a means of combatting the sale of "smoke" the poison liquor sold so freely and which caused the death of many of the unfortunates along the Bowery.

[Image via]

For further reading:
No salvation (Jeremiah's Vanishing NY)

Previously on EV Grieve:
Reactions to new Bowery hotel: 'It would be cheaper and more useful just to blow up the building and leave a 30-foot crater'


Lisa said...

Maybe they can call that replacement pile of excrement "The SA Building", and put that pretty terra cotta plaque somewhere about the premises. OK, the 1951 edifice is no great shakes, but I'll take it any day over The Towering Carbuncle.

Anonymous said...

Salvation Army Buttermilk Bar sounds like the latest douchebag culinary venture from some celeb chef du jour.

EV Grieve said...


Right? Probably just gave someone an idea!

Laura Goggin Photography said...

@Anon 1:21 - I was just thinking the same thing. Artisanal buttermilk is going to be all the rage this time next year. Book the VIP room while you still can!

Anonymous said...

God damn, the homeless were well dressed back then.