Nostalgia Shop

New Amsterdam

I went on a tour of Dutch New York recently given by the Municipal Art Society of New York.  Starting from the Dutch Pavilion by the Stanton Island Ferry Terminal, at Peter Minuit Plaza we walked around streets that were laid before New York was New York, and tried to see the land as it was in the 1600s.  Sort of hard to believe that this island used to have tons of hills, and that there actually was a wall along Wall Street.

Model of New Amsterdam at Peter Minuit Plaza

Forgot the name of this alley… but New York needs more allies…

Stone Street

Murder on Pell Street

This tiny two block street, albeit small, somehow manages to be more interesting than so many other streets.  Perhaps it is the history of murder and intrigue that underlies this festive lane of barber shops and tasty restaurants.  Pell Street is and hopefully always will be more than what meets the eye.

New York Times 1912

New York Times - 1911

(Source: The New York Times)

A little history of the neighborhood…

A little history of the neighborhood…

Dragon takeover on Doyers (Taken with instagram)

Dragon takeover on Doyers (Taken with instagram)

Church of the Transfiguration

Walking along Mott Street I always felt this old church looked out of place amidst all the Chinese restaurants and stores in the center of Chinatown.  After doing a little research, turns out this church existed before Chinese settlers claimed the neighborhood, serving the Irish and Italian populations of the surrounding Five Points neighborhood back in the 1800’s.  A Georgian style parish, with Gothic tracing- according to the AIA Guide to NYC.


Snagged this image off of Wikipedia, taken circa 1900.

Church of the Transfiguration 2011- now serves the Chinese community.

The view of the Church from Mott Street, facing down Mosco Street.  The angle of the street is still at a slight incline and remarkably similar to the 1900 image.  Love how these structures in New York are not only still intact but also still in continuous use.


Doyers Street 1900 and 2011. This street apparently holds some record of the most violent deaths to take place on a single street, as it’s unique curvature made it the street of choice for the bloody tong wars.  “Hatchet Men” would hide beyond the bend and engage in turf wars at the turn of the 20th century.  Today, it is the home of many cheap delicious restaurants, as well as trendy hot spots like Pulqueria and Apotheke. Surprisingly, it still has not lost it’s mystery and old world feel.

Pell Street

Formerly part of the Hip Sing Tong home turf and referred to as “Red Street” for the bloody Tong violence that occurred during the early 20th Century, Pell Street has left its violent history behind but has remained colorful in other ways to this day.

Chinatown on Sunday- Pell Street facing Bowery (source: NYPL MMPCO)

Pell Street November 2011- Facing the Bowery.  One of the most noticeable differences being the disappearance of the old Third Avenue El line that used to run along Bowery street between 1870’s-1950’s.

Chinatown Inspired

I moved to Chinatown recently.  Though I have always frequented the neighborhood to get my fix of Asian delights, living here feels completely different.  Seeing it early in the morning or late at night, desolate of the tourists and locals that normally pack its streets, you get a much better sense of the community of the neighborhood.  The quiet after-hour solitude helps me notice the density of the history that pervade its streets.  With such easy access, I couldn’t help but do some then and now comparisons.  My favorite part of the outcome is that things haven’t really seemed to change that much over the past 100 years in this neighborhood- appearance wise anyway.

Here is a shot of the intersection of Pell Street and Doyers Street circa early 1900s:

Byron, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-D4-13646]

And here is a shot of Pell Street and Doyers Street today 2011:

These streets have been home to gambling dens, seen decades of bloody gang violence throughout the 20th century and are a haven for all things cheap and delicious, thus attracting a wide range of people over the years coming for their own special vice- from soup dumplings to illicit activities. You can feel the energy packed into these worn streets as they are constantly reinventing themselves, still offering a distinctly old world feel that even the daily throngs of tourists can’t take away.