Walks in New York and elsewhere

My comments on buildings, shops, restaurants that catch my eye as I wander around New York City and other places.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Eldridge to Chrystie

Food shopping can be an adventure for those who do not speak or read Chinese, although in recent years, there is more English in evidence than there has been in the past, even as the foods on display are more and more exotic (at least to New Yorkers, who can be very provincial.)

Where Sara Delano Roosevelt Park is now there had been blocks of deteriorated tenements, torn down in 1929. It's not uncommon for people to set up little businesses like this one, a shoe repairman working in the open air.

At the corner of Chrystie Street is a particularly elaborate (as well as tall) tenement building dating from 1901, the year a new law was passed regulating the construction of tenement buildings, with the goal of providing better sanitary facilities and more light and air to the apartments.

The history of tenements in NYC is quite complex, but fascinating. A visit to the Tenement Museum, at 97 Orchard Street, is worthwhile for anyone who is interested in the architecture of the city and the social history of the life of its poorest inhabitants. This building was designed by C.B. Myers, a prolific designer of tenements. Many architects who went on to distinguished careers, George Pelham and Emery Roth, to name two, designed similar buildings when they started out. The ornament on this one is particularly exuberant. At seven stories, by law, it was supposed to have an elevator. The implication is that the owner was trying to attract a more upscale tenant than usual.


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