Renowned architect Josiah Cady designed this 1867 building. Among his other Manhattan achievements are the American Museum of Natural History and the original Metropolitan Opera House. The Orthodox Church settled in this building in 1943, which is now the seat of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey of the Orthodox Church in America.
62 East 4th Street has had a fascinating history. At its inception in 1889, it served as a social hall housing a musician's union known as Astoria Hall, as well as hosting meetings of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. In the 1930's, the ballroom was revamped as a theater and television studio and renamed Fortune Theater until Andy Warhol discovered it and left his legendary stamp here. In 1969, he rented it out to showcase a series of infamous porn films and called it Andy Warhol's Theater: Boys to Adore Galore. Over the years, the Yiddish theater had performances here, and many well known television shows used the space to film. Since 1987, the Duo Center has been here having raised the funds for renovations, and then remaining throughout construction to become home to what is now Duo Multicultural Arts Center and Rod Rogers Dance Company and Studio. Today the building is part of Fourth Arts Block (FAB) and operates as a center for film, dance, art, theater and music and is among New York's designated cultural districts.
Dating back to pre-Civil War days and formerly the St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran church, this stately red brick structure has been a synagogue since 1940. A devastating piece of New York history happened in 1904 when a boat filled with 1200 German immigrant women and children from the original church perished in a fire on the East River. Today, it has a modern Orthodox congregation that offers services every day of the year.
While strolling along Great Jones Street one day during the summer of 2016, I noticed the fire trucks pulling up to their house, getting ready to enter. I immediately quickened my pace and stood there, gazing inside. One of the firemen approached me and began chatting about the architecture and the history of Engine Company 33 and Ladder Company 9. I learned from this kind man, who has been with the department since 1983, that the building was designed by renowned architect Ernest Flagg. Pointing to the top of the firehouse, the fireman insisted that I go to my computer and have a look at old photos of the Beaux Arts Singer Building that once stood in lower Manhattan and compare the three-story arch and windows to his firehouse. He assured me that I would see the similarities, for Flagg chose to reuse these concepts when designing his skyscraper. For a short period in 1908, it was considered to be the tallest structure in the world. Sadly, it was knocked down in 1968. In 1899, the firehouse was originally conceived as a place where the chief of the department could work on a daily basis. Their main headquarters were uptown on 67th Street, but my friendly fireman proudly shared that this was where the highest uniformed person and his staff were housed. At the time, firemen were continuously on duty - "they only had an hour or two off a day until 1917 or 1918 and then it got a little bit better for them. " Thus, it was in this same building that the men ate their meals and slept whenever they could. I have not met a fireman while walking on the side streets who has not mentioned those who perished on September 11. Tragically, this firehouse lost ten of their fourteen heroic firefighters when the World Trade Center collapsed. At the conclusion of our conversation, this wonderful man told me that he would be "put out to pasture" in less than two years, as there is mandatory retirement at the young age of sixty-five in the fire department. There is no doubt that he will leave having had a full and meaningful career with his peers and that New York City is a better place because of him.
Not to be confused with New York Marble Cemetery just around the corner, this burial ground features custom gravestones and is the resting place of many prominent New Yorkers. Among them are James Lenox, founder of the New York Public Library, Stephen Allen, both governor and mayor of New York, the Kip family of Kips Bay; and several members of the Roosevelt family, including James Henry Roosevelt, founder of Roosevelt Hospital. Interestingly, we learned that President James Monroe was one of the first to be laid to rest here in 1831, but his body was later moved to Richmond, Virginia. New York City Marble Cemetery was designated as a landmark in the late 1960's. (The office is located at 72 East 1st Street)
A counterculture icon perhaps best remembered for his poem Howl, Allen Ginsberg was one of the original members of the Beat Generation. He lived in this 2nd street apartment between 1958 and 1961, during which time he composed the poem Kaddish, an elegy for his mother, and edited fellow Beat poet William S. Burrough’s classic work Naked Lunch. It is said that he also spent time here planning the “Psychedelic Revolution” with former Harvard professor and LSD proponent Timothy Leary. Today, a plaque from the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center commemorates him: "Allen Ginsberg 1926-1997 - internationally acclaimed poet and member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters lived here from August 1958 - March 1961. His single poem, Howl, (1956) helped launch the Beat Generation. Kaddish (1961) A Mournful Elegy for his mother, Naomi, was written in apartment #16. "
Had we not been personally escorted through the unmarked double doors that lead to Kenkeleba Gallery, Manhattan Sideways might not ever have known it was here. The only sign on the building reads Henington Hall, etched into the stone facade along with the year it was built, 1908. According to Joe Overstreet, in the 70’s the building was condemned until he and his wife, Corinne Jennings, were able to strike a deal with the city in 1978. Although 2nd Street was teeming with drug activity back then, the arrangement proved worthwhile for Overstreet, as it gave him, his wife, three children and the emerging Kenkeleba House a home in an area that eventually cleaned up its act and became one of the most important neighborhoods for the arts in New York City. Since its founding, Kenkeleba House has flown under the radar as a not-for-profit gallery space and artist workspace. Joe and Corinne were only interested in promoting new ideas, emerging artists, experimental work, and solo shows for those deserving of the recognition. They preferred to showcase artists whose works were not typically featured in commercial galleries, focusing primarily on African American art. Joe and Corinne’s vision of Kenkeleba House - as a space for artists to grow, to showcase African American that oftentimes would have been lost, and teaching African American history through gallery shows - was only possible due to their extensive background in art as well as their immense individual efforts. Corinne was born into a family of artists in an isolated part of Rhode Island, and until she was about twelve or thirteen, she thought “that’s what everyone did- I thought people made things. ” Her father, a talented printmaker who studied under Hale Woodruff, is widely known for his black and white wood engravings and costume jewelry. The Wilmer Jennings Gallery - across the street on 2nd Street - is named for him. Jennings’ mother was a Yale graduate and painter. Corinne came to New York in the 1960’s, originally wanting to be a scenic designer. Even though she was qualified, she was turned away by the head of the scenic designer’s union with the explanation that they did not want any women or black people. She instead started to do art projects, and eventually decided to “tackle some of issues that prevented African American artists from fully developing. ”Corinne and Joe spent a lot of time speaking with artists from different parts of West Africa and the Caribbean, eventually coming upon the realization that “they needed to find a different way for people to develop, for people to have space to work, [and] to find alternative educational routes for people. ” In 1978, Joe and Corinne purchased an abandoned building on second street, fixed it up, and opened up their first art exhibition in 1980. From then on, they began amassing their extensive and remarkable collection. The exhibits on display in this gallery recognize the rarely explored contributions that people of African descent have made to the art world. It is here, hanging on the walls and filed away in the deepest recesses of their private collection, we were showed a portrait of Dr. John DeGrasse painted by a largely forgotten African-American artist by the name of Edward Mitchell Banister (1828-1901). Banister won a national award for his most famous painting, “Under the Oaks. ” The magnificent framed picture of Dr. DeGrasse is easily worth more money than we could count, but the history lesson we received from Joe was priceless. Dr. DeGrasse was a native New Yorker and also one of the first African-Americans to receive a medical degree. He gained acceptance to the Boston Medical Society in 1854, making him the first African-American to belong to a medical association in that state. And to boot, he was also the first African-American medical officer in the U. S. Army serving as Assistant Surgeon in the Civil War. In addition, Manhattan Sideways viewed works dating back to 1773, by the late Hale Woodruff, an African-American abstract painter who lived in New York City from 1943 until his death in 1980. In addition to being an artist who aspired to express his heritage, Woodruff was also an art educator and member of the faculty at New York University. “We are African-American, so that is what we do, ” said Corinne, “but we are also interested in artists from the Lower East Side. ” Corinne’s personal art collection reflects much of her parent’s amazing work, as well as that of other African-American artists, both well-known and yet undiscovered. Kenkeleba Gallery aims to teach the younger generations about African-American history. “Every nationality walks by here on a daily basis, but they have no idea who we are as a people. ” Joe and Corinne were well aware of the contribution African-Americans have made to the arts that began right here in this community. Their private collection is made up of over 30, 000 paintings, artifacts, art books and jazz records that tell the rich history of African-Americans in this country.
The space is fabulous at Billy Reid, furnished with vintage southern pieces and housed in an amazing Bond Street building. Billy began his fashion business in Alabama and opened up his inviting menswear enclave here in 2008. Soft flannel shirts, great suede boots, woven skinny ties, colorful bow ties, well-made blazers, beautiful striped shirts and more…I love everything about this boutique, and each time I stop by, I am inspired to make over the men in my family. Billy designs much of the clothing in the store (minus the Levi jeans). He has gorgeous fabrics to choose from for suits and sport jackets. And there is a tasteful selection for women, too.
When we crossed over the threshold of the Most Holy Redeemer Church we were instantly captivated by this hall of old-world splendor and beauty. The church abounds with marble, grandiose murals and intricate stained glass windows. As we visited during the holiday season, the already magnificent surroundings were draped with holly and ornamented pine trees. Founded in 1844 by the German-speaking Redemptorists, the actual building was completed in 1851 and became known as the "German Cathedral of the Lower East Side. " In 1914, according to one source, it became the first church in the world to implement an electric bell ringing system. No matter what your faith, take the time to step inside this truly awe-inspiring Cathedral of the East Village, and on your way out, look up and take note of the massive clock tower.
With roots that can be traced back to 1872, St. Stanislaus holds the honor of being New York's oldest (and only) Polish Roman-Catholic Church. The parish has called its impressive 7th Street church home since 1900 and boasts congregants from all over the city. Accompanied by the church's secretary we managed to get inside to see the restored interior filled with original stained glass windows, each donated by a different Polish Catholic society. And she was kind enough to point out to us that every wall is adorned with molding, statues, devotional paintings, all overhung with a magnificent, domed ceiling. We loved her comment to us that "this church could probably fit into The Holy Redeemer on 3rd Street, but I like it, it's like coming home. " And, we too felt a quiet sense of welcome surrounded by the trappings of devotion and faith.