October 4, 1942

In my view, the following series of  shots are the most interesting ones that Cushman took of New York for the 1941-42 period because they capture parts of Manhattan that have long since vanished.

Cushman starts out from where he left off the previous day, near Norfolk and Broome Streets.  He made his way from Broome Street to the (then) new Vladeck Public Housing Projects, then towards the East River to return the intersection of Broome Street and Baruch Place (where he took virtually identical shot back on September 27, 1941).  From there he walked north along Lewis Street where the vast swath of the Baruch Public Housing Projects have stood since 1959, and continued north, then back east, finishing his journey with a shot (facing south) of Mott Street where it intersects with East Houston Street.

Airing the Bedrooms on a Sunday

The Now shot was taken on October 3, 2010.  Like much of this area of the Lower East Side, this old city block has been transformed into a parking lot.

It was possible to pinpoint this location thanks to the sign hanging on the far right side of Cushman’s shot.  It says The French Artistic Darning & Weaving Co.  The Fall 1930 – Spring 1931 Manhattan Yellow Pages list this business as being at 190 Broome Street, which was located on the north side of Broome Street between Suffolk and Clinton Streets according to the Manhattan 1930 Land Book (Plate 17).  They could be reached at ORchrd 2198 under the old alpha-numeric telephone directory.

The street address shown in Cushman’s shot is 192, which means that the address changed between 1930 and 1942 (entirely possible given my review — see below — of the Land Book from 1930 compared to subsequent versions in later decades, which show address number changes).  Suffice it to say there is no doubt that this is the correct location given that it is only a block from Norfolk Street (the last confirmed Cushman shot) and the name was an exact match with the Yellow pages.  Interestingly, the business ceased being listed in the Yellow Pages in subsequent years, no doubt due to the tight money during the Great Depression.

*         *          *

Collecting War-Time Salvage

The Now shot was taken on October 3, 2010.

This shot and the following shot were taken from the same spot; the first panning to the right, the second panning to the left.  The second shot shows a street address of 172. I am fairly certain that this is 172 Broome Street, which would have been on the north side of Broome Street between Clinton and Attorney Streets.  The 1930 Manhattan Land Book shows this as 170 Broome Street but I looked at subsequent year hard copies of the Book and 172 shows up at this spot.  The Land Book also shows a very long building occupying half of the block and the building below meets that description.

These are some priceless shots of a scrap metal drive that consumed the country at the time as part of the war effort.  Mayor La Guardia was making a huge push for scrap collections and each of the bouroughs had quotas to meet; they were competing with each other over which could produce the most scrap metal.  In fact, the local papers ran stories about the scrap metal drive that was taking place on Broome Street near the Clinton Street (7th Precinct) Police Station.  It was noted that the residents of the area had amassed a 100-ton pile of scrap in a vacant lot on the south side of Broome Street between Clinton and Attorney Streets.  Please click on the Scrap Metal Drive page to get more details about this and the overall effort in the city.

*          *          *

As previously noted, this area of the Lower East Side has been converted into blocks and blocks of parking lots, no doubt the victim of post-War “slum clearance.”

*         *          *

Poverty, Young & Old, Black & White

The title speaks for itself.  Clearly, the Depression was still very much alive on this street, which I have yet to locate.

Cushman was coming from the area of Broome and Norfolk Street and the two shots following this one have been positively identified (in the area of the Vladek Houses), so it stands to reason that this shot was taken somewhere between the two points.  One safe assumption is that the buildings are no longer there.  The only clue available is the street number and even that is not entirely clear.  The number above the man standing in the doorway is “8” but the number on the candy store next to him is “118.”  The most plausible explanation is that 118 is the correct street number and that the “11” wore off the building to the left, which is quite run down.  Going on this assumption, there is one problem.  The only street number of 118 in the area was what was then the 7th Precinct Police Station, which was on the corner of Clinton and Delancey Streets.  So that possibility is eliminated.

There are street numbers in this range on Ludlow and Essex Streets north of Delancey Street but this would be well north, and in the opposite direction of the next shots where the location was confirmed.  And I even checked out 118 Essex Street and the building was not a match.  This one still remains a mystery and it probably always will.

*          *          *

White House Front in Drab Surroundings

The Now shot was taken on July 31, 2010.

It was possible to confirm this location thanks to the shot after this one (which was taken by one of the nearby Vladeck House buildings) and to the 1930 Manhattan Land Book.  This is a view of the south side of East Broadway close to where it intersects with Grand Street — at an odd angle.  This area of the Lower East Side had independent grids of blocks where the grids themselves were at different angles.  Thus, where they converged, the intersection of streets made for triangular intersections.   What is very unique in Cushman’s shot are the street numbers which are sequential in order (i.e., 306 and 307) on the same side of the street.  Usually street numbers zig zag from one side of the street to the other so that odd numbers are on one side and even numbers on the other.  Not so in the Cushman shot because, given the odd angle at which it converges with Grand Street, there is an open triangular void and, hence, no north side of East Broadway.  Thus the numbers ran sequentially, which I was able to confirm in the Manhattan 1930 Land Book (Plate 14, Block 288).  The last building on this side of East Broadway (No. 311) still stands and is just out of view to the left.  It seems apparent that the buildings in the Cushman shot were razed to make way for Public School 134, which was erected in 1959 per the Now shot.

*          *          *

Old Lady Reads Sunday Paper on Older Door Stoop

It is not possible to know specifically where this shot was taken but presumably it was in the vacinity of the previous shot.

*          *          *

Boy Meets Girl in Street Scene

This is another shot I have not been able to confirm as there is no street number visible.  I do have a hunch that it was very near the vicinity of the last confirmed shot.  The blue sign on the lamp post says “Quiet, School, Drive Slowly.”  According to the 1930 Manhattan Land Book (Plate 14, Block 288), Public School No. 147 was in the immediate vicinity between Gouverneur and Scammel Streets.  Unfortunately, I cannot find a match with any of the buildings from that era that remain.

*          *         *

Big Brother Takes Her for a Ride Pickaback

The Now shot was taken on February 21, 2010.

At first I thought it would never be possible to find this shot but Cushman provided enough of a clue to make it possible to confirm the location.  His notes say that these two kids live in a big “new” housing project near the East River.

After walking the area I discovered the Vladeck Houses, which were completed in 1940 per the plaque below, and which occupy an area bounded by Madison, Jackson, Water, and Gouverneur Streets.  And the unique footer which can be seen in the background erases any doubt that this was the location.  Exactly where within the complex Cushman’s shot was taken it is hard to tell, but it must have been along or close to Water Street where the ground slopes towards the East River and the footer of the buildings are highest.  The Now shot is just an educated guess (based on the window, tree and footer– the shapes and sizes of windows vary and when juxtaposed against a tree, the possibilities can be narrowed).

*          *          *

Corner of Broome St & Baruch Place

The Now shot was taken on January 16, 2010.

Cushman returned to this corner; he had taken an almost identical shot in September, 27, 1941.  This is not that far from his previous shot.  The hideous Now shot speaks for itself.

*          *          *

Northwest Corner of Delancey and Lewis Streets

The Now shot was taken on October 3, 2010.

Cushman made his way north a couple of blocks (and walked under the Williamsburg Bridge approach to take this shot.  The building in his shot is 302 Delancey Street according to the Manhattan 1930 Land Book (Plate 15).

Evidence of the slum clearance continues to be apparent.  The next five shots are of various blocks of the Lower East Side (bound by Delancey Street to the south, Columbia Street to the east, and Rivington Street to the north) have all been razed and replaced with the Baruch Public Housing Projects, which were built in 1959.  According to Emporis.com, Emory, Roth & Sons was the architect and was formerly one of the five oldest architectual companies in the country.  The firm also boasts that it has constructed more buildings than any other architectual firm in Manhattan — 175 in all, according to Emporis.

I must say, the Baruch Houses were not one of the firm’s better efforts.  These projects illustrate what Jane Jacobs viewed as the utopian planning of European architect Le Corbusier.  I know next to nothing about urban planning, but I did read Jacobs’ 1960 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities and to me the argument she makes against the urban planning status quo makes a hell of a lot of sense as I walk the streets of the Lower East Side.

*          *          *

Lewis Street North from Delancey

The Now shot was taken on October 3, 2010.

Cushman labels this as being a view north on Lewis Street north from Delancey, which would have meant that we merely crossed Delancey from his last shot, panned a bit to the right and took the shot.  A review of the Manhattan 1930 Land Book proves that it was mislabeled.  The buildings that can be seen in full in Cushman’s shot all have five stories save the single story store front (which was most likely at one time part of a larger building).  There are no five-story buildings on this block according to the Land Book.  My guess is that this was taken one block over on Goerck Street from Delancey.  The better part of this side of the street consisted of five-story buildings and walking one block north on Goerck would have brought him to the Universal Coal Company store front that he took a shot of (see the shot after next below).  Thus, I am fairly certain that Cushman mislabeled this one and that this is actually a view facing north of the east side of Goerck Street.

The Now shot below was taken from Delancey and Lewis but the view would differ little if taken a hundred feet or to the right.

This and the next shot tell an interesting story.  We see a group of women with their baby strollers and another group of people standing in front of the store.  And if you look real close, you will see a little boy emerging from the Cali Brothers Love Nest Candy Shop where you could get your money’s worth of candy for a nickel.  All of this is easier to see in this enlarged shot.  Doing a little bit of research, I understand that Love Nest Candy was a popular brand back then.  There were also many different indpendently manufactured brands of candy that were eventually bought out by the bigger candy companies.

It is apparent that the boy leaving the candy shop spotted a stranger walking through the neighborhood and that they spoke.

*          *          *

Two Boys Pose Below Their Parrot

The Now shot was taken on October 3, 2010.

Here is that same little boy proudly standing with his younger brother in front of their tenemant building, which is the second building to the left of the Love Nest Candy Shop in the previous shot.  My guess is that he asked Cushman what he was doing and Cushman must have responded that he was taking photograpghs of the area.  The kid asks him if he would take a picture of his place, Cushman says sure, and the kid runs home, gets his little brother and they pose for the shot.  They no doubt told Cushman about the parrot as well (which can be seen through the open window above).  Today, a vacant playground within the Baruch Housing Project occupies this spot.

As with the picture of the brother and sister in front of the Vladeck Houses, I often wonder what happened to these kids; where they ended up.  God willing, they are all well within their 70s now.

*          *         *

Store Fronts Below a Brick Tenement

The Now shot was taken on October 3, 2010.

The Universal Coal Corp, seen on the left side of this shot, was listed as being at 320 Rivington Street according to the Fall 1944 – Spring 1945 Manhattan Yellow Pages.  Back in the day, you would have dialed GRamrcy 3-6693 to order some coal for your stove or furnace.

This was the northwest corner of what was then Rivington and Georck (which was renamed Baruch Place) Streets.  Today we have the green “open space” of the Baruch projects.

The men in front of the coal company are covered in coal dust.  It looks like they may have been on a cigarette break.  An elderly lady with a crutch is struggling to make it up the steps.  It was not an easy life that these people led.

But one shocker.  For reasons I have yet to discover, one building that stood on Rivington Street was spared.  I panned to the right to take the shot below.  The Land Book provides that this was a Bath House with the street numbers of 326 and 328 Rivington Street on the east side of Goerck Street.  According to this michael.minn.net:

The Rivington Street Public Bath [completed March 23, 1901] was the first of the municipally-funded public baths in New York City resulting from the efforts of the progressive public bath movement. Ground was broken in December 1897 for a large building with 91 showers and 10 bathtubs. The building was intended to serve the largely Jewish population of the Lower East Side ….  The dilapidated building was closed and sealed in 1975 during the city’s financial crisis, leaving only one obvious entrance door at the front. The foliage growing out of the top of the building may be indicative of compromised roofing that would leave what is left of the interior unusable. Ironically, although the real estate on which the building sits is probably of substantial value, ownership by the city in the middle of public housing probably means that this building may remain standing – ignored and unloved – for many years to come.

*          *          *

Sunday Afternoon Gossip

The Now shot was taken on October 3, 2010.

Cushman reversed course on Rivington and walked back west until he came to Columbia Street where he made a right to take this shot.  M. Paget Watchmaker & Jeweler made it possibble to confirm this spot.  I could not find it listed in the Yellow Pages but did find it in a business directory I found at the New York Public Library (I originally had the name until my site crashed; the next time I am there I will confirm the name).  This is a shot of 80 Columbia Street.  What threw me off at first was what appears to be the number “272” in the window (with the top part of the “7” worn off).  But I am convinced this is not the case due to the listing in the business directory, plus it is a couple of blocks from the last shot he took and, finally, the De Witt Memorial Church was located right where you see its rebuilt version in the Now shot.  (Built in 1957, it is referred to in the AIA Guide as a “simple brick box that contains a sanctuary faced in reused brick and a cross of tree trunks: rustic and humane charm amid overpowering housing.”  Amen.)

UPDATE (2/3/2014): I stand corrected on this one.  The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation was kind enough to point out to me that photographs do not lie.  The number in Cushman’s shot “272” is, in fact, the correct address.  It so happens that it was at long since razed 272 Rivington Street, which is right around the corner from where the Now shot was taken (it would be facing the rebuilt De Witt Memorial Church).  As was brought to my attention, a shot of this building (circa 1938-39) from the New York Public Library site can be seen here.  Use the zoom feature and you will see this store front virtually identical to how it looked in Cushman’s shot.  I will add an updated Now shot when the weather cooperates.  Kudos to you, Amanda!

*          *          *

Hot Sweet Potatoes on Sidewalk Store

There’s no way of confirming this spot; it was taken somewhere between 80 Columbia Street and the shots he took on 1st and 2nd Streets.

*          *          *

A Block Between Avenues A and B

This one is particularly frustrating because there are two business names to work with — The Smoke House Smoked Fish and the J. Makarchuk Restaurant.  Plus, it appears that a number, 179, is next to the name of the restaurant.  But I could find no listing of either of these businesses in the Yellow Pages or any other directory.  Although I’ve walked up every street between Avenues A and B, I strongly suspect that this is somewhere along 2nd Street as his next shots were of the corners of 1st Street and Bowery.  Cushman’s notes say between Avenues A and B but this may be wrong as well as he mislabeled two of his next four shots (no marks against him, mind you).

Some day I hope to figure this one out.

*          *          *

Lower Second Avenue is Spruce Looking

The Now shot was taken on October 3, 2010.

Cushman mislabeled this shot, describing it as being on lower First Avenue.  This is actually a shot of Second Avenue and 2nd Street.  The buildings remain but have been completely stripped of their character.

The building which housed the Moscowitz & Lupowitz Restauant on the right side of Cushman’s shot is now owned by the La Salle Academy.  According to the Acedemy’s web site: “Moskowitz and Lupowitz Restaurant, on the corner of 2nd Street and 2nd Avenue, was purchased in 1966 and since then has served as the school annex, providing additional classrooms and office space.”  Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York provides some additional interesting information about the restaurant.

The building to the left is now the Rectory for the Roman Catholic Church of Nativity.  This building was completely overhauled — even the entrance was moved to the center.  The sliver of the old Church can be seen in Cushman’s shot.  According to this site:

The Roman Catholic parish of the Nativity of Our Lord was established on June 5, 1842, to ease overcrowding in existing Catholic churches in Lower Manhattan. The Rev. Andrew Byrne, founder and first pastor, purchased the former Second Avenue Presbyterian Church for $13,000, a Greek Revival edifice built in 1832, and refitting the interior to include a high altar. The imposing church with tall tower is believed to be the design of Alexander Jackson Davis, James H. Dakin, and James Gallier of Town & Davis. The Catholic church added the words, “AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM” (To the Greater Glory of God) to the entablature of the facade.

On January 20, 1912, a fire broke out in the church, destroying the “historic organ” and interior. In 1970, the magnificent Greek Revival building was razed and replaced by the present modern building, designed by Genovese & Maddalene, on the same site.

That same web site provides an illustration of the old Church as well a shot of the rebuilt version.

I opt for the old version.

*          *          *

Northeast Corner of First and Bowery

The Now shot was taken on October 3, 2010.

Back in 1942 you could have gotten a shave and a haircut for 25 cents.  Today, you can withdraw money from an ATM — assuming you bank with Chase — in a typical new sanitized apartment building.

*          *          *

Southeast Corner of First and Bowery

The Now shot was taken on October 3, 2010.

And in 1942 the competition among barbers was stiff.  If you were not satisfied with the barber on the north side of 1st Street, all you had to do was walk across the street to Al’s, where you could get a haircut for 20 cents.  Al doesn’t tell us how much extra for a shave.

Today a place called Blue & Cream occupies this spot, also in a modern uglified glass building.  According to their web site:

Blue & Cream (B&C) is a Hamptons based multi-label Mens & Womens retail clothing store.  Since opening its first retail door in Spring 2004, B&C has built a devoted customer base and garnered massive media attention for its unique product mix, shopping experience, and celebrity clientele.  B&C is the brainchild of entertainment marketer Jeffrey Goldstein who defined the B&C lifestyle by appealing to the Hamptonite’s Jet-set existence.  Leveraging an extensive public relations, entertainment, and communications network, Jeffrey has captured a niche in the highly competitive retail market.  Today, B&C is a lifestyle brand that transcends the 3 retail stores it is currently operating.

God, do I miss Al’s.

*          *          *

A Corner on Houston Street

The Now shot was taken on July 25, 2010.

I must say that there was a significant amount of sweat equity that went into tracking down the location of the shots Cushman took.  Never was this more so than with respect to this shot which he mislabeled as being a corner of West Canal Street.  I walked the length of Canal Street on both sides several times in vain looking for this corner and finally concluded that he mislabeled it.  So I started from where he took the last shot and eventually found the right spot.  This is a view looking south on Mott Street where it intersects with East Houston Street.  The red building in the background (with the triangular roof) in the Cushman shot is still there today and was St. Patrick’s School back in 1942.

A viewer of the site point provided me with some interesting information about the area.  As evidenced by the then and now shots, a median did not exist on Houston Street back in 1942.  Back in the 60s, Houston was widened and the median added to accomodate traffic.  The same viewer also pointed out, thanks to Bowery Boogie,  that the beginning of Martin Scorsese’s first film, Who’s that Knocking at My Door, was shot at this general location in 1967.


Below is a close up shot of the building in the background of Cushman’s shot as it appeared on August 15, 2010.  It appears that it is still is owned by the Church but I am not sure what it is used for.  It sits on the southwest corner of Mott and Prince Streets.

*          *          *

Click here to see the next series of shots taken on October 6th.

Note: The Cushman shots have been reproduced on this site with the written consent of Indian University, which owns the Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection.

1 Comment »

  1. david bellel says:

    I believe your smoke house could have been on East 4th, between 1rst and Avenue A. I found Michael Makarchuk’s WW2 draft registration record from 1942 and he is owning a restaurant at 175 East 4th. I can email it to you. Village View Projects are there now. Kudos for your excellent research

RSS feed for comments on this post. / TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

1. Click here to see it Then and Now

Here is a view of the United States Secretariat as it appeared on July 11, 1960.

Click here to see other Then and Now shots from that day.  Note: The Cushman shots have been reproduced on this site with the written consent of Indiana University, which owns the Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection.

2. Click here to see it Then and Now

A view west on 42nd Street and Broadway as it appeared on July 9, 1960.  Click here to see more Then and Now shots from that day.

3. Click here to see it Then and Now

Here is Delmonico’s, at 56 Beaver Street, as it appeared on July 7, 1960.  Click here to see other Then and Now shots from that day.

4. Click here to see it Then and Now

Peter Minuit Plaza as it appeared on July 5, 1960.  Click here to see more Then and Now shots from that day.

5. Click here to see it Then and Now

A view of Pearl Street and Peck Slip as it appeared on October 7, 1942.  The oldest house (at the time) in Manhattan can barely be seen in this shot.  Click here to see more Then and Now shots from that day.

6. Click here to see it Then and Now

A view of City Hall in the early morning as it appeared on October 6, 1942.  To see more Then and Now shots from that day please go to the October 6, 1942 page.

7. Click here to see it Then and Now

A view of Second Avenue and 2nd Street as it appeared on October 4, 1942.  To see more Then and Now shots from that day please go to the October 4, 1942 page.

8. Click here to see it Then and Now

Here is a view looking up Broadway from Battery Park as it appeared on October 1, 1942.  To see more Then and Now shots from that day please go to the October 1, 1942 page.

9. Click here to see It Then and Now

A view of Trinity Church as it appeared on October 3, 1942.  Click here to see more Then and Now shots from that day.

10. Click here to see It Then and Now

A view of Peck Slip as it appeared on September 27, 1941.  Click here to see more Then and Now shots from that day.

11. Click here to see It Then and Now

A view looking east on Wall Street as it appeared on June 6, 1941.  Trinity Church is in the background, the New York Stock Exchange is on the left, and a statute of George Washington in front of Federal Hall is on the right.  Click here to see more Then and Now shots from that day.