Saturday, November 9, 2013

"History of Fruit"

Every inch of the Emerald City has history. Indeed every inch of the planet does, but I'm just talking about a few particular square feet here. Namely my favorite Deli, and Fruit stand on Fulton Street in lower Manhattan.

The shop has a long history or at least the land it sits on does. This spot was once on the shore of the Manahatta Forest. The local tribe the Canarsie's likely sailed their bark canoes from there.

Later the space was a muddy lane by the New Amsterdam wharfs. After some landfills it was the site of a log building where rum was stored. Local lore sez that during the rebellion against the Crown Red Coats were billeted there.

Seems someone burned it down,...wonder why?

Later in the Federal Era the area around our plot becomes home to Freedmen. New York having freed it's slaves around 1800.  The lower Manhattan water front became the Harlem of it day.

About 1820 a two story clapboard building is raised. 

It was at first an administrative building for the port. Later it became a school for Colored children. Years on during the Civil War it was attacked during the infamous anti-Negro Draft Riots, and burnt to the ground.

After this tragedy the land lay vacant for some years.

In 1898 the current brick, and stone four story building went up.

Originally it was a rooming house for sailors, and a ground floor shop. After this housing for immigrants. Apparently unwelcome immigrants. This since they were burned out just after WW1 in yet another hateful fire.

I'm not sure who or what moved into the space immediately after that. However in the late 1920's an illegal liquor distillery was put together in it's basement. In the 30's during the Great Depression the building was home to gambling, and drinking clubs.

In the 1940's during WW2, and after it was a restaurant, but with continued gambling on it's upper floors. This later expanded to drug dealing in the 1950's, and 60's.

In New York's nightmare 1970's it was burned out by yet another "mysterious" fire. I then t sat boarded up, and vacant like so many other local properties. 

So it stayed for decades.

However when at last the City began to come back it was bought for relative pennies by speculators in the late 1990's. These rascals turned it upscale. Like they did most of Manhattan. Upscale apartments, and retail.

So it goes.

I wonder when some one will burn it down again?

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