We are very fortunate that photographer Berenice Abbott captured images of New York City in the 1930s and 1940s (Abbott, by the way, lived off and on in Greenwich Village, including in the Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments, recently demolished by NYU). With an almost singular focus on streetscapes and architecture, her images, like the one below, provide unparalleled glimpses into the city’s past.
In 1937 Berenice Abbott took this captivating photo of a very inertesting and lively block of 3rd Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets. Anchoring the corner was the aptly named Stuyvesant Curiosity Shop that offered everything from guns and ammo to guitars and banjos. In the event that you were short on cash you could could head next door to the pawn shop at 50 3rd Avenue. And you cannot help but notice the unabashed promotion of the wares of Sig Klein’s Fat Men’s Shop at 52 3rd Avenue, which would certainly not be acceptable today.
Nearly 75 years later, this is the same block of 3rd Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets today. Having shed its colorful businesses the block looks less like Times Square and more like the East Village.
We have been researching every building in the East Village and have come across some fascinating history about the businesses in this block that we will share with you.