Sunday, July 31, 2005

239 East 7th Street

In her article Katharine Greider envisioned her 239 "ancestors" having encounters with Garfein's on Avenue A, Papa Burger's Hungarian foods on Avenue C and egg creams on Avenue D. I had to research what Garfein's was......lo and behold it was Mercury Lounge! from their web site: "The Mercury Lounge is located at 217 East Houston Street, between Ludlow and Essex streets, where the Lower East Side meets the East Village. It's on the first floor of a building that once housed the servants to the Astor Mansion, connected to it by an underground labyrinth of tunnels. Garfein's Restaurant occupied the space in the early part of the twentieth century, and from 1933 to 1993, the storefront housed a seller of tombstones. Vestiges of the monument store include the large, foot-square, wooden beams, on which the monuments sat and were displayed, used in the construction of the Mercury Lounge's storefront window. And there is a tombstone embedded in an end of the bar's countertop." Now I have to figure out where there was an Astor Mansion? It's probably where some realtor is building a fancy hotel/health club on Allen Street. We'll discuss egg creams at a later date. It's part of the Kisseloff thread. The Bromley 1891 map can let us imagine some other things. Perhaps the children from 239 attended PS36 (still standing as a Henry Street day care site) on 9th Street or PS 71 which was on 7th street closer to Avenue B. There were many schools around, because the neighborhood was packed with children. Use the map yourselves and come up with some possibilities. BTW the blue lines on the map show the original boundaries of the Dutch farm owners. The picture of an abandoned 7th Street synagogue (1981) in the top left corner comes from a terrific now and then LES photo site

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