New York Songlines: Avenue C

with Pitt Street

E 23rd | Peter Cooper Rd | E 20th St | E 16th | E 15th St | E 14th | E 13th | E 12nd | E 11st | E 10th | E 9th | E 8th St | E 7th | E 6th | E 5th | E 4th | E 3rd | E 2nd | E Houston

From 14th Street to Houston, Avenue C is also known as Loisaida Avenue--Spanglish for Lower East Side, it's what Alphabet City's Puerto Rican and Dominican community calls itself.

Pitt Street is named for William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. Twice the prime minister of England in the years before the American Revolution, Pitt advocated more generous policies toward the colonies--which is why Pitt Street and Chatham Square retained their names when other British names were eliminated after independence. Pitt is believed to have been bipolar.

The southernmost stretch of Avenue C is called Dickstein Plaza, named for U.S. Rep. Samuel Dickstein, who is best remembered for initiating the House Un-American Activities Committee.




W <===         EAST 23RD STREET         ===> E

West:

Peter Cooper Village

beggars would ride by rhinomite, on Flickr

Built in the late 1940s by Met Life Insurance Co. as housing for World War II vets; it was slightly pricier than Stuyvesant Town. Now being converted to high-priced apartments. When Met Life sold it and Peter Cooper Village--a total of 110 apartment buildings--for $5.4 billion in 2006, it was reportedly the biggest real estate transaction in history. The purchaser was Tishman Speyer Properties, a real estate group that owns Rockefeller Center, among other things.


W <=== PETER COOPER RD

Peter Cooper Village





W <=== E 20TH ST

Stuyvesant Town

Stuyvesant Town by warsze, on Flickr

Like Peter Cooper Village, built in the late 1940s by Met Life Insurance Co. as affordable housing for World War II vets, and now being converted to market rate. Jane Jacobs uses Stuyvesant Town, with its lack of nonresidential development, its scarcity of streets and its repetitive architecture, as an example of how not to fix cities.

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East:

John J. Murphy Park

One of Manhattan's more obscure parks, in the shadow of the FDR Drive.















Con Edison





E 16TH ST ===> E

Con Edison

High asthma rates in the neighborhood have been blamed on the pollution from this electricity-generating complex.


E 15TH ST ===> E

Con Edison

by machfive, on Flickr



W <===         EAST 14TH STREET         ===> E
The northern boundary of the East Village

West:

R & S Strauss


There is a pedestrian route here to Avenue B.


205 (corner): Compos Plaza is a housing project named for Pedro Albizu Campos, a Harvard-trained lawyer who led the fight for Puerto Rican independence and spent much of his life in prison for seditious conspiracy.


W <=== E 12TH ST

195: Ave C Deli

193: Kiran Wholesale Paper Goods Ninth Street macchiato by tonx, on Flickr

185: Cafecito, well-regarded Cuban. Replaced Valencia Bakery and Suds for Duds Laundromat?


W <=== E 11TH ST

177: Christian Assembly Pentacostal

175: Happy Wok; St. Jude's Flat Fix (tire shop) Micky's Blue Room by neatnessdotcom, on Flickr

171: teneleven, neighborhood bar, used to be Micky's Blue Room, which once offered a haircut and a beer for $20 on Monday nights.

169: El Coyote Cojo, Mexican. This building was profiled in a U.S. News & World Report cover story on how lives changed from 1900 to 2000.

Corner: Urban Vets Animal Hospital

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Con Edison


E 13TH ST ===> E

188 (corner): Haven Plaza, a 26-story residential development of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, built in 1967.

C Town Supermarket










180: Village East Pizzeria is the longest- surviving pizza parlor in the neighborhood, and was featured in the 1985 kung-fu movie The Last Dragon as ''Daddy Green's Pizza.'' ''Some of the best pizza the city has to offer, courtesy of the same owners for almost 25 years now,'' claims a reader.

178: Global Discount Stationery







170 (corner): This 21-story residential building went up in 1967.


W <===         EAST 10TH STREET         ===> E

West:

159 (corner): Christine's (formerly Sammy's) Deli Grocery

157: Royale Burger was The C Note, eclectic music club that closed in 2005. Fair Warning by elmada, on Flickr

155: The C Squat, described by City Limits as a "beloved crash pad known for concerts, parties, screenings and skateboarding tourneys." Got legal occupation in 2002. See this website for one resident's vision.

153: Rico, hookah cafe

151: Upstairs is a divey bar called Speak Easy.

149: Barnyard is a fancy cheese and meats shop. Used to be The East Edge gifts.

145 (corner): Esperanto, Brazilian restaurant that helped popularize Mojitos.

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East:

East Village 2006 by neatnessdotcom, on Flickr

158 (corner): East Village Tavern, beer pub, was Rice, restaurant and sake bar, previously Futurama Cleaners.





Ninth Street Community Gardens

9th Street Comnunity Garden & Park by Steve and Sara, on Flickr

Corner: One of the neighborhood's larger green spaces.


W <===         EAST 9TH STREET         ===> E

West:

La Plaza Cultural/Armando Perez

les by neatnessdotcom, on Flickr

Corner: Community garden/park; notable for dramatic productions and a fence decorated with flowers made out of aluminum cans. Sunburnt Cow by Dalboz17, on Flickr

137: The Sunburnt Cow, Australian bar/restaurant

133: Baraza, Latin-Brazilian bar

131: Babel, Mideast cafe, was Cotto, brick-oven pizza--before that Treasury Antiques.

129: On the C Pub

127 (corner): Caffe Pepe Rosso, part of a mini-chain of Italians. Used to be Rebecca's Bakery.

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East:

New York. East Village. Avenue C by Tomás Fano, on Flickr

138 (corner): Banjo Jim's (formerly 9C) features lots of live music; Lullaby Baxter has played here. NYC's Bite Me Best, formerly Super N.Y. Famous Pizza, features new-wave pizza.






136: A & C Kitchen: Chinese & American Food




134: Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union



Corner: Public Service Administration 4; futuristic-looking police building that features an exhibit of artifacts found in an excavation of a former privy on the site.


W <===         EAST 8TH STREET         ===> E

West:

Corner: Remarkably ugly new multi-colored brick building with Associated supermarket was built over part of Bello Amanecer Boricano, a community garden.

115: The Porch, a bar. On the north wall is Fuerzas Irresistables, interesting bas relief mural depicting community solidarity.

111: Arcane has been Bao 111, Vicala, Sen. after the storm by Kilgub, on Flickr

107 (corner): Zum Schneider, a little piece of Bavaria in Alphabet City

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122: Kelly Glass studio & gallery





116: Gargoyle faces overlook Lava Gina, a bar with a naughty name. I went to a three-year-old's birthday party here once.

110: Neat little building







Corner: Building that looks like Cthulhu's bank has housed artists for decades; cool clock.


W <===     EAST 7TH STREET     ===> E

West:

99-103: Boris's Shoe Repair; Kheyphitz Gold & Diamond











89-97 (corner): Group V NYCHA

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New York. East Village. Avenue C by Tomás Fano, on Flickr

102 (corner): Alphabet Lounge, laid-back bar

100: La Reina dress boutique

94: Joselito's Restaurant



W <===     EAST 6TH STREET     ===> E

West:

NYC - East Village: Chico's Loaisada by wallyg, on Flickr

Corner: Loisaida mural (2000), by neighborhood artist Chico. "Loisaida" is Spanglish for "Lower East Side."

77: Santos Variety, botanica/discos & cassettes Recycle a Bicycle by Green Map System, on Flickr

73-75: Project UNO; Recycle a Bicycle











71 (corner): Johanny's Unisex Salon

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80-84 (corner to corner): Lower East Side II Consolidation (NYCHA)


























W <===     EAST 5TH STREET     ===> E

In the 1960s, this intersection was the city's main heroin market.

West:

69 (corner): Ave C Laundromat

63: Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses

55: Avenue C Studio houses the >East Village Dance Project. Secret Garden by Green Map System, on Flickr

Corner: The Secret Garden, community garden; it's not very secret, being right on the corner, so presumably the name is a reference to the Frances Hodgson Burnett book in which restoring a garden brings life back to a community.

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66: Casa Adela; Adela Fargas' Puerto Rican restaurant has been a community hub since 1973.

The Nublu scene by mecredis, on Flickr

62: The bar Nublu (with backyard garden) has spawned a live jazz album called Nublu Sessions featuring Norah Jones. A Brazilian hangout.

58: 5C Cultural Center, health food and New York's "best cheap jazz," according to New York.

54 (corner): Mountains of Yaffa Supermarket. I believe the name refers to Yafa in Yemen.


W <===     EAST 4TH STREET     ===> E

West:

Corner (300 E. 4th): Gothic revival building.




Corner (251 E. 3rd): Bracetti Plaza NYCHA

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Corner: Fine Fare supermarket. "To the ladies at Fine Fare Supermarket, just about everybody is 'Mama'"--Voice


36 (corner): Loisaida Drugs & Surgicals

W <===     EAST 3RD STREET     ===> E

West:

31 (corner): Moon Pie Pizzeria

27: Lower East Side Locksmith; Lower East Side Video Club

21-23: Umbrella House, a squat named for its formerly leaky roof. Once known as UN House for its ethnic diversity. Got legal tenancy in 2002.

15 (corner): The Stone, a nonprofit performance space for experimental and avant-garde jazz. No refreshments, no merchandise--just music. The $10 cover goes directly to the musicians. John Zorn is the artistic director.

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34 (corner): Jennylin Grocery; Bodega de la Familia

32: Step-Up Barber Shop





14 (corner): Adinah's Farms grocery. In O. Henry's story "The Sleuths," No. 12 is described as an "old-fashioned brownstone house in a prosperous and repectable neighborhood." As O. Henry knew, there was no such address on the avenue--and the neighborhood was never prosperous or respectable.


W <===     EAST 2ND STREET     ===> E

West:

Gas station--one of the few in the East Village.






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East:

Gustave Hartmann Triange

A little space left over when Houston was widened. Hartman was a judge and a Jewish community leader who founded the Israel Orphan Asylum.




W <===     EAST HOUSTON STREET     ===> E

West:

135 (corner): The Boys Club





















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East:

Hamilton Fish Park

Fish (1808-1893), a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, was governor, a senator and secretary of state under U.S. Grant. He was named for Alexander Hamilton, a friend and ally of his father Nicholas. A long line of Hamilton Fishes have been active in politics, culminating with the original's great-great-grandson, who is the publisher of The Nation. Pitt Street Pool II by edenpictures, on Flickr

The park was designed by Carrere & Hastings in 1898-1900, along with the Hamilton Fish Park Play Center (No. 130), which was modeled after the Petit Palais in Paris. It's perhaps best known for the Pitt Street Pool, the Lower East Side's Olympic-sized ol' swimming hole.


W <===     STANTON STREET     ===> E

West:




101: Mision Guadalupana, built c. 1890 as Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church. Part of what the AIA Guide calls a "spectacular religious complex."











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Samuel Gompers Houses

Pitt Street by mokolabs, on Flickr

100 (corner): These NYCHA houses, named for the founder of the American Federation of Labor, made an effort to be racially and economically integrated--apparently a rare thing in New York City public housing.

90 (corner): More Gompers Houses


W <===     RIVINGTON STREET     ===> E

West:














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80 (corner): Samuel Gompers Houses. Grand Street Settlement, a community group originally on East Broadway, has been based here since 1976.








70 (corner): More Gompers Houses


W <===     DELANCEY STREET     ===> E

West:






7th Precinct Station House

19 1/2-25 (corner): This 1975 police building is admired for its form-follows-function design. Also houses FDNY Engine Co. No. 17 and Ladder Co. No. 18.


W <===         BROOME ST





































NYC_divers 042 by L'Hibou, on Flickr

460 (corner): Compre- hensive Center for Rehab- ilitation

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Abrons Arts Center

466 (block): Entrance of the Henry Street Settlement's Abrons Art Center by hragvartanian, on Flickr

This arc-shaped complex was built in 1975 to provide the community with art facilities, including spaces for dance, music, drama and visual arts. Lo-Yi Chan was the chief architect on the project.

The center was built around the Harry De Jur Playhouse, established in 1915 as the Grand Street Playhouse and later known as the Neighborhood Playhouse. Founded by sisters Alice and Irene Lewisohn, who directed community drama clubs for the Henry Street Settlement, the theater was designed by Harry C. Ingalls and F. Burral Hoffman Jr., who based the Colonial Revival plan on their own Little Theatre (now the Helen Hayes) on 44th Street, which went up in 1912. NYC_divers 038 by L'Hibou, on Flickr

The theater showcased experimental drama and featured new work by Eugene O'Neill, George Bernard Shaw and James Joyce; Stravinsky's Petrouchka, a ballet with life-sized puppets, had its U.S. debut here in 1916. After the Neighborhood Playhouse moved out of the neighborhood (to the Little Theatre, its original home's architectural model), serious drama continued here, notably Aaron Copeland's opera The Second Hurricane, which premiered here in 1938 in a production directed by Orson Welles and starring Eartha Kitt. The Folksbiene Yiddish theater company also got its start here. NYC_divers 039 by L'Hibou, on Flickr

This stage has featured the likes of James Cagney, Ethel Barrymore, Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. Aline Bernstein, a founder of the Met's Costume Institute, began her career in costumes here--and began her eight-year affair with novelist Thomas Wolfe on a couch backstage.


W <===     GRAND STREET     ===> E

West:

Seward Park Co-Ops

Seward Park by themikebot, on Flickr

Part of Co-Operative Village, these 12 towers were designed by Herman Jessor and built from 1957-60. The Hatters and Painters unions' pension funds helped pay for the development. The complex features Socialist Realist-style murals by Hugo Gellert depicting Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR and Einstein, painted in 1959. In 1996, seward park by bondidwhat, on Flickr the co-op board tried to have the historic murals removed, but they reversed the decision after appeals from art historians and union leaders.

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Block (465 Grand): This four-story building, which houses an Emigrant Savings Bank branch, went up in 1963.



























W <===     EAST BROADWAY     ===> E

At 275 East Broadway, an address now in the middle of the street here, was the home of Meyer London, a Socialist Party leader who was three times elected to the U.S. Congress. He lost in 1922 to Samuel Dickstein, who is best known for initiating the House Un-American Activities Committee, and for whom the roadway that paved over London's house is named.

West:

A quarter-acre traffic island












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Corner (279 East Broadway): A two-story building from 1918












W <===     MONTGOMERY ST/HENRY ST     ===> E

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W <===     HENRY ST/MONTGOMERY ST     ===> E









Is your favorite Avenue C spot missing? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

New York Songlines Home.

Sources for the Songlines.

A Walk Down Avenue C is a phototour from The Big Map.

Here's a weblog with an extended description of Avenue C.