New York Songlines: Eldridge Street

E. Houston | Stanton | Rivington | Delancey | Broome | Grand | Hester | Canal | Division

This street was originally a road through James Delancey's farm, which was called Third Street after it became a public thoroughfare. Like several other neighborhood streets, it was renamed in 1817 for a hero of the War of 1812--in this case, Lieutenant Joseph Eldridge, who was killed in July 1813 by Ottawa Indians allied with the British--reportedly after being taken prisoner.


First Park

First Park Swings by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner: A sliver of playground created in 1935 from land left over from widening Houston. Renovated in 1997. The snack stand, formerly known as Le Kiosk, is now run by Veselka, the popular East Village Ukrainian diner, and serves an abbreviated version of their menu.


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

The southern boundary of the East Village

West:

147 East Houston by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (147 E Houston): Dopey Benny's features variations on the cheese steak theme. Named for Dopey Benny Fein, an early 20th Century Jewish mob boss. On the Eldridge side was Chickpea, local falafel chain, then videogame-fonted Mario's Pizza, now (since 2011) Lucky's Famous Burgers, local fast food chain.

I almost got an apartment in this handsome, c. 1900 building in 1991; another renter got in just ahead of me, and I took my current place instead. I could've been a Lower East Sider instead of an East Villager.

249: Sapphire Lounge, low-key dance club.

247: Was The Eldridge, a briefly hot nightspot. Earlier it was Luv 24/7.

245: Was Satsko, sushi joint known for its saketinis.

241: East Village Veterinarian. Not in the East Village.

237: Sunday L.E.S., aka Horton Gallery--art space that moved to Chelsea in 2009, but still maintains this space for appointment-only shows. bOb bar by edenpictures, on Flickr

235: bOb, little funky nightclub

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151 East Houston Hotel by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (151 E Houston): The Hotel East Houston used to be a Discount Pet Shop that also sold bait.


























224 (corner): Hernandez Houses, a 17-story NYCHA building completed in 1971 that houses some 280 people in 149 apartments. It's named for Rafael Hernandez Marin, a Puerto Rican composer best-known for "Lamento Boricano" and "Preciosa."


W <===     STANTON STREET     ===> E

West:

Corner (59 Stanton): Little Bryan Grocery Store was J & F Deli Grocery. apizz by edenpictures, on Flickr

217: Apizz, Italian with a cozy hearth

213-215: This four-story housing development was built on the site of the Garden of Eden, one of the first community gardens, started in 1972 by Adam Purple, who biked down horse manure from Central Park for fertilizer. The garden, which had a striking concentric arrangement centered on a yin/yang symbol, was bulldozed in 1986 after Purple lost a court battle.

193 (corner): The building with the EZ Minimart used to house Studio We, a 1970s-era jazz performance space started by trumpeter James Dubois and drummer Juma Sultan.

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196: Part of the same 1986 housing develpment that leveled the Garden of Eden.

192 (corner): During the 1890 Cloakmakers' and tailors' strike, workers invaded a scab sweatshop here on the top floor, beating the owner, Samuel Billett (who also lived in the same apartment) until he shot and seriously wounded one of the strikers.


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

West:

Rivington House

Rivington House by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (45 Rivington): This big pink building, built as P.S. 20 in the 1890s, is now a residential AIDS facility--the largest in the country. Terry Miller, author of Greenwich Village and How It Got That Way, died here.




The murder at the center of Richard Price's novel Lush Life takes place on this block--though the address is given as 27 Eldridge. The real-life murder that inspired the fictional one took place at Clinton and Rivington.



165: Chinese-American Planning Council Community Services--a drop-in community service center run by a grassroots group founded in 1965.




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University Settlement House

University Settlement House 1 by KyjL, on Flickr

184 (corner): Originally known as the Neighborhood Guild, this was the country's first settlement house--an institution founded on the premise that the poor needed the college-educated to settle in their midst and set a good example. The house moved here in 1899, into a building designed by John Mead Howells, who later co-designed the winning entry in the Tribune Tower competition, and Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes, author of the New Tenement Law and the classic history Iconography of Manhattan Island.

At University Settlement, Stokes' brother, James Graham Phelps Stokes, met radical journalist Rose Pastor. The millionaire Episcopalian socialist's 1905 marriage to Pastor scandalized the press, which called her the "Red Yiddish Cinderella." George and Ira Gershwin's musical talents were nurtured at afterschool programs here, which also helped politicians Abe Beame and Jacob Javits get their starts.

166: Sea of Galilee Temple, Pentacostal church

162: New York Chinese Alliance Church


W <===     DELANCEY STREET     ===> E

West:






139: LMAKProjects, gallery space that moved here from Chelsea in 2008.

133: Woodward Gallery

129: Was Panade Cafe, specializing in puffs and pastries


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East:

Corner (55 Delancey): James Fuentes gallery

Milk & Honey

134: A bar famous for its unlisted phone number--which you needed to call to get in-- and its remarkably civilized set of rules: e.g., "Gentleman will not introduce themselves to ladies"; "Do not bring anyone here unless you would leave that person alone in your home." Opened in 2000; entrance is now "by referral and appointment only."

130 (corner): Chinese & Spanish Grocery


W <===     BROOME STREET     ===> E

West:



115: La Crepe C'est Si Bon, creperie

109: Nagasaki Sushi. Eighty thousand people were killed in the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

107: This four-story brick building was the Eldridge Street Police Station, built in 1869 as the station house for the area between The Bowery and Clinton Street, from Houston to Division. The homeless denizens of The Bowery would stay in the police lodging house here, under squalid conditions documented by reporter Jacob Riis. The station house was sold in 1912 and converted to lofts the next year.

105: Fontana's, three-level bar. Different address, but the same building as the former police station.

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118 (corner): Fu Zhou Cuisine

118D: Duo Tian Bakery

118A: Vanessa's Dumpling House, acclaimed--and affordable--dumpling house, owned and run by Vanessa Duan.

110: New Hong Fa--was Hong Fa Zhou Pin Mian Shi Co, grocery

108: Lion King's Printing. The cornice over 108-110 appears to read 1898.

Corner (290 Grand): Lok Fing Chinese Restaurant. In May 2011, this restaurant got the worst score on a health inspection of any restaurant in Chinatown/Lower East Side that wasn't shut down by the Health Department.


W <===     GRAND STREET     ===> E

West:



87: This building with unusual arched windows was the Talmud Torah Tifereth Jerusalem, a synagogue founded in 1907.

85: S. Wan Cafe, Chinese--formerly Sim Cafe. Also the Well Being Center.

83: New Hunter Internet Cafe

73: J & P Poultry

71A: Best Fuzhou Restaurant. The Voice's Robert Sietsema recommends the "spectacular" Fujianese food--especially the "water melon with fish stomach."

69: Hua Du Dumpling Shop; WJ Herbal

67 (corner): H X Internet Cafe was Jun Xin Seafood (aka Hing Shing Seafood Store).

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Corner (291 Grand): HK Manpolo Market; Higher Learning on 2nd floor


88: Kurrmi, restaurant

86: Manhattan Beijing Auto Driving Corp. is in a cute four-story building.









72 (corner): A five-floor housing project built in 1975.


W <===     HESTER STREET     ===> E

West:

M.S. 131: Dr. Sun Yat Sen School

Corner (100 Hester): A large middle school serving a largely Chinese immigrant student body, with an emphasis on computer-aided learning. It shares quarters with Pace High School, a small school affiliated with Pace University, and the Emma Lazarus High School for English Language Learners, named for the "Give me your tired..." poet. The building, which spills over onto the former footprint of Forsyth Street, dates to 1983; AIA Guide likes the "curvilinear, extroverted, expansive" design by Warner, Burns, Toan & Lundy.

39: This was the Robo-Pong Training Center, a pingpong parlor that was shut down by police in September 2007 as a front for a brothel targeting Pace High School students. Upstairs was (is?) Happy Dancing Club, an apparently legit Chinese dance hall. More recently this address has been the home of Inhabit Karaoke Lounge.







Alphabet/City: Cup & Saucer by litherland, on Flickr

Corner (89 Canal): Cup and Saucer, old-school luncheonette, opened c. 1940. This may not be long for this world.

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Birthplace of Ira Gershwin by Salim Virji, on Flickr

60 (corner): Lyricist Ira Gershwin was born at this address on December 6, 1896, above what was then Simpson's Pawnshop. The current building dates to c. 1920.




58: Church of the United Brethren in Christ in NYC

50-52: Golden King Restaurant. The building's facade says "Witty Brothers," which was a company--founded on Eldridge in 1888--that sold elegant menswear from a handful of local stores. The famous gangster Monk Eastman was wearing a Witty Brothers suit when he was killed, which helped confirm his identity.

48: Azian Eagle Electronic

46: Prosperity Dumplings; HR Grocery

38: Rong Hang, Fujianese--apparently related to Best Fuzhou up the street

34: MS Wireless serves Malaysian snacks.

Corner (85 Canal): Gourmet Deli & Grocery, aka Moe's Deli


W <===     CANAL STREET     ===> E

West:

Corner (86-84 Canal): Canal Street Apartments, a 17-story residential project with a four-story commercial base designed by Peter Poon Architects-- under construction in 2009. At No. 86 used to be Beny's Fine Jewelry, torn down in 2007.

27: Sheng Wang, Fujianese noodle shop. The murder at the center of Richard Price's novel Lush Life takes place on the sidewalk outside this address --though in the book, this address is between Rivington and Delancey.

19: Israel Iskowitz, who grew up to be Eddie Cantor, one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the early 1930s, was born along this stretch of Eldridge in 1892--possibly in this tenement, built c. 1870.

15: Fu Zhou Cuisine

13: Double Dragon, Fujianese like you're back in Fuzhou--as in no English on the menu or from the staff.

11: Quality Restaurant Supplies. This appears to be the building in which Nicolas Cage is attacked by a Chinese magic user in the film The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

9: Ka Wah Bakery Corp From the Manhattan Bridge (New York, NY) by vige, on Flickr

7: Asan Fuzhao Restaurant

5: Eldridge Street Employment Agency, a for-profit company

1 (corner): HX Int'l, store; 328 Cafe. Eastern Buddhist Association is upstairs.

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Corner (84 Canal): Storm Image Fashion; Kings Associates Construction & Supplies

26: Super Taste Chinese Restaurant

24: Internet Coffee Shop

22: CM Trading, 99-cent store

20: Buddhist Association of New York, organized in 1990, moved to this storefront temple in 1997.

18: T Baar IV, bubble tea

Eldridge Street Synagogue

NYC - Chinatown: Eldridge Street Synagogue by wallyg, on Flickr

12: A gorgeous Moorish-style temple built in 1887 as a place of worship for Russian and Polish immigrant Jews. By the 1940s, the changing neighborhood left the congregation worshiping in the synagogue's smaller House of Study, while the main sanctuary fell into disrepair, with pigeons roosting in the balconies. In 2007, the building was brilliantly restored and reopened as the Eldridge Street Museum, featuring a new stained glass window by Kiki Smith.

10: Win Lee Mall



2-6 (corner): Reach House 88 (for 88 Division Street) was Jin Feng ("Gold Wind")--both dumpling houses. Interestingly shaped building dates to c. 1900.


W <===     FORSYTH ST/DIVISION ST     ===> E

W <===     DIVISION ST/FORSYTH ST     ===> E

Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan Bridge by NJScott, on Flickr Forsyth Street by _PaulS_, on Flickr

This was the last of the three suspension bridges crossing the lower East River, opening to traffic in 1909. The chief engineer was Othniel Foster Nichols, assisted by two of the most famous bridge engineers in U.S. history--Leon Moisseiff and Rudolph Modjeski.

What's missing on Forsyth Street? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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