For a general appreciation of where you are, it helps to know who came before you and what was done.  Especially if it helps you now.
—Philip Copp in “One Track Mind”

Copp-bowlinggreenIn 1978, Philip Copp intended to spend a month working on an article about the art in New York City subway stations that he hoped to sell to a magazine.  Today, thirty-four years later, Copp, also known as Philip Ashforth Coppola, a nom de plume of sorts, has probably not spent a day during which he did not work on this “article,” now a multi-volume collection of books, some self-published in limited edition and some in manuscript form.

As he discovered the artistic riches displayed in each station, Copp was overcome by the need to record what all the engineers, architects, artisans, and artists had done, before their work faded and they were forgotten forever.  The environment underground, vandalism, and, most of all, time is eating away at the intricate mosaic designs that adorn the walls of each and every station, and many are being replaced by plain white tiles that forever erase any trace of what was once there.

Phil Copp (image: Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)

Phil Copp (image: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York)

Jeremy Workman, a filmmaker who recently made a documentary about Copp entitled “One Track Mind,” describes his subject in an interview with Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York:

Phil is a subway historian extraordinaire. He is a regular guy from New York and New Jersey who works at a printing press. A kind sweet man. A bit on the quiet side. An avid church-goer. But he’s had this lifelong obsession with the decor and design of the New York City subway stations. He’s spent most of his adult life creating a study called “Silver Connections,” a massive homemade, self-published, illustrated encyclopedia of the decor in the stations. He’s studied it historically, artistically, and sociologically. It’s like a billion pages and it has literally thousands of amazingly detailed hand-drawn sketches and diagrams.

In the same interview, Copp describes his own work:

My study has two purposes. First, to record the art & architecture of the NYC subway stations in word and picture. Second, to reveal the persons who designed or crafted the decor. Both subjects of my study were neglected and unheralded (especially in the late 1970′s, when I began this undertaking).

Volumes from Copp's SILVER CONNECTIONS (image: Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)

Volumes from Copp’s SILVER CONNECTIONS (image: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York)

It seems Copp is adding to Silver Connections every waking moment that he is not at work or church.  All day on weekends and most evenings, sometimes into the night.  He is a man obsessed, possessed even, single-mindedly cataloging the disappearing artwork of the 496 stations, according to his count, of the New York City subway system.

In addition to “One Track Mind,” Copp has been featured in The New York Times, on New York 1, the BBC, and even on Japanese television.  He says he enjoys getting media attention and is willing to take a day off to do interviews, but you can tell what he really wants to do is to get back to work on his magnum opus, his epic love letter to New York City.  “The city cannot be what it is without rapid transit,” he says.  “Buses are great, subways are better.”

 

Silver Connections

Silver Connections

We are very pleased to be the distributor of the newly revised 2013 edition of Silver Connections Volume I (Books 1 & 2), as well as  Silver Connections Volumes III & IV.  For more information and to purchase copies, please visit our Silver Connections page.

Watch “NYC Subway Buff Chronicles Past In Full Detail,” Jose Martiez’s piece on Phil Copp in NY1 here

To watch the film One Track Mind directed by Jeremy Workman on Amazon Instant Video, click here.

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“I learned long ago that if I go out somebody I’ve been wanting to see very badly is sure to come in.  I’ve missed so many I’ve grieved about.”

—Frances Steloff

wisemenfishheresignThe Gotham Book Mart (GBM) was an institution in literary New York for 87 years.  Founded on West 45th Street in 1920 by Frances Steloff, the shop was frequented by writers such as Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, H. L. Mencken, Arthur Miller, John Updike, J. D. Salinger and Eugene O’Neill, and its customers included a host of prominent New Yorkers —George and Ira Gershwin, Charlie Chaplin, Alexander Calder, Stephen Spender, Woody Allen, Saul Bellow, John Guare, Katharine Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, to name only a few, as well as numerous high-profile visitors who would make sure to drop in when they were passing through town. At various points, Allen Ginsberg, LeRoi Jones, Tennessee Williams, and Patti Smith worked as clerks there.  The shop also exhibited the works of the artist Edward Gorey and is credited with launching the artist’s career.

gotham40317Steloff is credited with supporting the careers of major writers back when they were unknown or unaccepted, including James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. Although censored, Steloff sold James Joyce’s Ulysses.  She also sold D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover in the 1920′s and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer 1930′s, which led to lawsuits and landmark decisions on censorship.

Despite its renown, GBM was a very personal bookshop, as Steloff put her heart and soul into the store, working long hours and hand picking stock.  A beloved figure, Steloff was also very exacting and an economizer, and many who worked for her did not or could not meet her high standards.  She was also known to be extremely generous, sending money to writers needing to make rent or pay bills without any guarantee of repayment.

Steloff lived a childhood of abuse and poverty in Saratoga Springs and then Boston. She eventually made her way to New York City where she worked in a department store, starting in the corsets department and later moving on to the magazine subscriptions counter.  Using the connections she made, she secured several clerk positions in bookstores, the last of which was Brentano’s, a major New York bookseller.

On her way to work, Steloff often passed Sunwise Turn on Thirty-Fifth Street.  Founded by Madge Jenison and Mary Mowbray Clarke in 1916, this bookshop specialized in quality publications, particularly fine art books.  Taking Jenison and Mowbray as inspiration perhaps, Stelhoff took a chance and rented a 15 by 12 foot ground floor room with a window and named it Gotham Book & Art.

gotham20315W G. Rogers, in his book Wise Men Fish Here: The Story of Frances Steloff and the Gotham Book Mart muses that it was Steloff’s difficult and deprived childhood that propelled her toward a successful life in bookselling:

…The Gotham Book Mart, sanctuary of the written word, did in fact originate in the unliterary vacationland of Saratoga Springs.  A perceptive girl learned key lessons from hardships, developed a love for all living creatures, and grew up to have an irresistible passion for the very things she was deprived of: books and education.  Given plenty of reading matter, books might never have become a necessity and she might not have felt driven to her long-sustained efforts.  She was teased and tantalized into success.  Young Steloff and books were donkey and carrot.  (23-24)

Though a slow and an uphill climb at first—the store was open from 9 AM until midnight and Steloff alone performed all tasks, from cleaning to bookkeeping to clerking—she eventually cultivated a loyal clientele.  Her very first customer was a Broadway idol of some note who was performing in a show in the theater next door.  More theater people from the neighborhood began coming to her for books, as well as acquaintances from Brentano’s and other bookstores.  No doubt Steloff exuded an air of determination and dedication that attracted her customers and made them want to return.

Steloff’s specializations came to her by chance: theater books because she was in such close proximity to so many theaters, and art because she once bid on a collection of hunting images, only to be given Japanese woodblock prints when she went to claim her purchase.  Duped and dispirited and knowing nothing about Japanese art, she put the prints out for a dollar a piece with the hope of recouping her expenditure.  It turned out, through the tips of collectors who bought pieces from her, that the prints were true collectors pieces and could fetch much more.

After a move to Forty-Seventh Street, a divorce, and a name change to Gotham Book Mart, Steloff’s shop began taking on its identity as a place that nurtured both writers and readers.  She began stocking “Little Magazines” that printed artistic work that was not money-making for larges presses. She began her career in magazine sales, and she later supported them by displaying magazines in her shop’s window, buying magazine advertisement space, and listing the magazines in her catalogs.  Rogers explains in Wise Men Fish Here:

As editor and writers commenced to urge the untried, untested, and often inscrutable avant-garde writings on GBM, it stocked more and more of them.  The proprietor describes her role modestly: “Perhaps it would be more flattering to believe that we were prophets about the great new writers who were then emerging in these little reviews.   But on the contrary I was led step by step by opportunities, and I simply responded to the needs and requests for an outlet.”  Her customers were still educating her.  (113)

Steloff went far beyond stocking obscure literary magazines to help authors.  She often lent or even gave them money when they were in need.  She cashed checks for them found them rides and places to stay and even once tried to begin a fund for poets to give money to those most in need but found that need greatly outweighed available funds.

gothambookmart

Steloff became friendly with the writer Christopher Morley, who brought his friends Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller and W.S. “Bill” Hall to the shop where they turned the back yard of GBM into an art gallery and hangout.  Although many of the great minds of New York spent time there, it was not an intellectual salon but more of a place to have fun with like-minded peers.  Rogers explains:

It was good-fellows-get-together, laughter in the cloister, wit and fun spiced with learning.  Some of the decade’s best minds relaxed in congenial company; they dashed off doggerel, quipped in ancients and modern languages, and recited limericks that were for reciting only, not for printing. (160)

In the mid-1940s, Steloff almost went out of business, but through Christopher Morley she was able to buy a building owned by Columbia University.  After two decades at #51 she moved to #41 Forty-Seventh Street on the same block.  She continued to be exacting and and frugal in the postwar era but fewer people were willing to earn a living on her terms anymore, hard work and low pay in exchange for the opportunity to be among books.

GBM’s stock was divided into three sections, new, secondhand, and rare.  It also stocked magazines, regular and “little.”  Steloff lived in an apartment above the store and was therefore able to continue to work long hours devoting herself to the bookstore.  When Steloff turned 80, she finally decided to “retire.”  She sold the shop to Andreas Brown, a devoted customer and book lover, in 1967 on the condition that she could continue living in the apartment above the shop for the rest of her life and work at the store.  Frances Steloff died in New York in 1989 at the age of 101.

lss+april+1975

Steloff with Andreas Brown

A New York Magazine listing for GBM describes the shop in its later years under Brown:

Owner Andreas Brown and his flock of charming misanthropes are happy to help—or engage in fiery intellectual debate—when called upon, but they’re also just as content to read in a corner and leave browsing customers alone. (Sometimes, they don’t even look up when you walk in.) While the store stocks a little bit of everything, its specialty is 20th Century Arts and Literature, so if you need a signed play by Samuel Beckett or the complete works of James Joyce, you’re in the right place.

In 2007, GBM closed its doors for good.  Brown, who had major financial difficulties, was forced to close the store, and its stock was sold in a general sale, its inventory going to The University of Pennsylvania Libraries after an anonymous donor purchased over 200,000 items worth millions of dollars and donated it to the library.

Gotham Book Mart was an icon in a particular tradition of bookselling in New York.  Like the back room of Charles Wiley’s bookshop on Reade Street in the 1820’s, known as the “Den,” and Jenison and Mowbray Clarke’s Sunwise Turn, as well as Jeanette Watson’s Books & Co. and the 21st century Greenlight Books and McNally Jackson Bookstore, GBM was always more than just a store.  To quote Rogers once again:

It is significant that she always refers to the Gotham Book Mart as a shop, not a store.  Even more in the 1920s than now, there was a distinction.  A store was for selling, a shop was for building and creating.  She always did more than sell.  If salesmanship has satisfied her, corsets would have, too.  If selling just any book had satisfied her, she would have stayed on Vesey Street where she had earned more than she did now. (78)

Yes, Frances Steloff was a builder and creator and Gotham Book Mart was most certainly a shop in the true sense—a place where writer, reader, and proprietor harmoniously coexisted and commingled, a place where the written word came alive.

***********************

The history of the store is covered in the documentary film, Frances Steloff: Memoirs of a Bookseller, directed in 1987 by Deborah Dickson.

Rogers, W G. Wise Men Fish Here: The Story of Frances Steloff and the Gotham Book Mart. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965. Print.

Tannenbaum, Matthew. My Years at the Gotham Book Mart with Frances Stelloff, Proprietor. S.l.: Worthy Shorts, 2009. Print.

 

 

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Today’s guest post by Benjamin Feldman of The New York Wanderer describes, step by step, one of his many journeys through the streets and archives of New York City in search of, what?- a pot of gold, buried treasure, the lost ark—call it what you wish.  In the tradition of Indiana Jones, he is driven to uncover the past, or, in his words, he seeks veracity.  A chance encounter with a de-accessioned lantern slide leads him down a windy road that leads uptown and  back down again, to the Bowery.

 

lantern-slideA Miner’s Lantern

By Ben Feldman

 

Why?

People constantly ask me this question: Why are you learning modern Hebrew? Why did you learn Yiddish? Why is it so enticing to you, that old newspaper article, that strange lantern slide? I listen, and then I stare off into space, speechless. All I can think of is that corny phrase my superannuated Yankee torts professor, Willis Livingston Mesier Reese, taught us at Columbia Law School. Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself. These people ! I meet their Why? with equal vigor: I have no idea how anyone with a brain in their head could not be fascinated by the things that enthrall me. And it’s not as if I expect universal interest in my pursuits. What amazes me is the rarity of passion itself. It’s the least common denominator of intellectual fanatics, this overarching symptom of a wonderful disease. I hope to die from it.

As a child, and now as a so-called grown-up, the prospect of finding buried treasure continues to thrill me. Whether it’s a wind-blown bank note on the sidewalk or hardware scavenged in the street as I bike my way through New York, whether salvaged furniture from Yorkville trash piles or scouted-out scuz bars on the Brooklyn waterfront, I’m always up for a casual encounter with windblown wealth.

At Green-Wood Cemetery’s History office, I’ve stumbled upon a mother lode. You might think that working among the dead would be creepy. Quite the contrary. Imagination grows best in a quiet room. There among gentle, living souls I’ve found my looming mill, factory of dreams and recollection. High above Gowanus rooftops, threads spin tightly on whirring bobbins, shuttles shooting back and forth. Memory and anticipation, warp and woof, I weave a precious psychic cloth.

Wednesdays are my special days. I work mid-week in a hyper-chilled room with a view out over one of the “Public Lots” where hundreds of unrelated folks lie peacefully. In a locked cage I sort and catalog paper ephemera and random objects. My deal as a volunteer is unbeatable: there’s one for the boss, and one for me. I take my sweet time, reading and dreaming, enveloping myself in a comforter of knowledge. At the end of the day, I leave the storied brownstone gates laden with gifts, my mind overflowing with new-found riches. Six weeks ago, though, I got extra-special lucky. Opening a bubble-wrapped tiny parcel, I held in my hand an object unlike any I’d seen before.

Wherein lies the power of a simple piece of tinted glass? Some ink, a bit of silica, a century old, it was plucked from the refuse by an E-bay entrepreneur and sold for a pittance to my hungry historian friend Jeffrey Richman. After a cursory inspection, the questions began to flutter in my mind like feathers spilling from a bursting old bed-pillow:

What is that big fat stone in the foreground ?
Where was this taken and what year was it?
Who are these window-shoppers?

One question encircled all the others. In it perhaps lies an answer to the complained of Why? Embedded in the passion that drives me is a core of curiosity, the desire for something more than knowledge. It’s veracity I seek. With every query I repeat, How can I know? How can I be sure?

Excitement’s flammable vapors are invisible and odorless. One dasn’t light a match when I get in this state. Some people race Harleys, their pipes blazing, cylinders roaring. Others head straight for the gym. Flexing and spinning, they push their limits, seeking to conquer, finding out just how far they can go. I’ve a different Nautilus contraption, though, albeit inchoate, one more akin to the littoral kind. In each of my finds lies a swirling darkness, crustacean mystery. I hold them close and hear briney whispers. They’re as common as sea-shells, these gilded invites, cleverly disguised as chance encounters. They’re free for the taking. Who needs a Benz?

*****

Lantern slides are small glass plates, positive images that were projected in auditoriums in the 1800s in Europe and America by traveling showmen. In Harrisburg and Lower Podunk, Carlsbad and Yukhupetz-ville, lantern slide shows offered the masses the Eight Wonders of the World, theatrical tableaux. In the days before motion pictures, scenes that only the wealthy and well-traveled could experience first-hand were brought to life for common people, first with oil-lamp projectors, and then electricity.

After I blinked to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, my eyes focused on my new treasure and the search for answers began. Look at the clothing the man and boys wear. When was it stylish and who could afford it? Knickers: there’s the very first clue. And a bowler on the man, his jacket short and snug. With that I could bracket things, narrow the window. Experience told me, it’s the turn of the 20th century. But where are they standing and what is that stone, stuck in the sidewalk in the foreground?

A faded label on the edge of the slide got me off to a healthy start. The Museum of the City of New York somehow de-accessioned this slide: the label marks it as part of a collection once maintained there. So it must be New York City, this funny old scene. That tan stone column looks like a milestone, but where in New York did such a thing stand, as late as maybe 1900?

Some bell went a-ringing deep in my cranium: I’d heard of these stones and seen one, I thought, up on the 7th floor at New York Historical Society. Two minutes on the internet confirmed my memory. And then came an historian’s choicest moment: The original site of this particular stone, which I now could fix in front of 216 Bowery, I found misidentified in authoritative texts.

The Boston Post Road dated from early colonial times, and at least nine milestones marked the Manhattan portion of its route. Three of them are on display at NYHS, where the audio guide claims that they date from the early 19th century. I’ve no reason to contest this information (the stones at NYHS may not be the originals, which were in all likelihood placed along the Road during the previous century) but the lantern slide tells me that unless milestone #1 was relocated before the photo was taken, its home was different than the placement along the Bowery, south of Canal Street, that I found quoted in several research sources.

Fever erupted in my brain, so I hopped on my bike and raced downtown. I had to see where the stone once stood. 216 Bowery lies far north of Canal Street; on the west side of the Bowery between Rivington and Prince. How the apparently erroneous location of milestone #1 came to be accepted is anyone’s guess. I’ve got the goods on it now I think…

Like wrestling a slippery, angry hog, it’s best to come at the dating question for this slide from as many angles as possible. “I. Silverman – Picture Frames” gleams from inside the showcase window on the right hand side of the image. What can we know from these simple block letters? The shabby storefront and modest use had screamed Bowery to me even before I checked out the milestones. An hour at the NYHS’ hushed library yielded the story for me forthwith.

Trow’s Directories are a cornucopia, and they led me straightaway to the truth. I can see him now, Mr. Israel Silverman, making his way to his fancy new frame shop. There Silverman was in Trow’s in cold hard type, starting in 1902, living and working on the Lower East Side for almost a decade. He made his home on East Broadway, then on Eldridge, with his shop on Chrystie in ’02 and ’03. In 1908 Silverman’s shop made it over to the Bowery. Probably a step up, better foot traffic, more out-of-towners. I blew the image up on my computer. Just look at that rolling vitrine, out on the sidewalk, holding its stock of framed prints of hunting scenes and other genteel images. Even cold-water tenement walls in sweatshopper’s walk-ups could use a bit of goyish class. The Bowery in those days was also the center of a low-class entertainment district. Think of Times Square in recent decades. Storefronts beckoning to the unsuspecting; “Art Treaures” and “Antiques” vying for window space with the latest in electronics gray-goods deals.

It’s the left-hand window in the slide that truly grabbed me, though. Despite the slides’s tattered paper label that mentioned the milestone as the object of interest, the theater broadsides you see in the window of what must be 214 Bowery are the reason I stumbled upon this gem. My buddy Jeff bought this slide on e-Bay when he searched for items with a connection to Henry C. Miner, one of the many eminences entombed in Green-Wood in ornate mausoleums.

Giant block letters scream the message to passersby: MINER’S THEATER “The Bowery Hall of Fame” OUR PATRONS DEMAND WEEKLY AMATEUR PERFORMANCES EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT. MINER’S METHODS WIN. I had no idea what these words meant, notwithstanding their imposing scale. Down below, with blurry capitals, another line peers out from the glass. ENORMOUS ATHLETIC JUBILEE ! WEDNESDAY NIGHT ONLY APR. 15. It must have been fisticuffs: Jim Galvin vs. Young Sharkey is a featured match. Again bells rang: I knew the name Sharkey, so off I ran again to the internet. I’d no idea that arcane boxing history was so easy to find.

Sharkey, Sharkey: Jack Sharkey, that’s the name. My mind had not failed me: he beat Max Schmeling in ’31 for the world heavyweight title. Held it for one year ‘til Primo Carnera whipped him in ’32. Sharkey was the only guy to fight Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey. But wait a second… Wouldn’t Jack Sharkey have been too young at the turn of the century to be doing prize fights at Miner’s as “Young Sharkey?” Jack was born in 1902, so I guess it could be the same guy if the photo is from 1917 or so. But it seemed unlikely. Back to the salt mines.

Turns out that many, many fighters went by the appellation “Young” back in those days. “Young Sharkey” could have been one of several guys. Website boxing records are enormous. Date, ring site, combatants, decision after enumerated rounds: if you type in a name at Cyberboxingzone.com, you peek at a world that’s vanished today. Another site devoted to pre-WW II boxing in Britain lists 16 fellows by the name of Sharkey who boxed in the years 1913-4 and/or 1920-1939, three of whom went by the nickname “Young.” I fixated, though on someone else: one of the most famous American boxers in 1910, memorialized in cigarette and candy premium cards, was Tom Sharkey.

Tom-SharkeyI would have bet that this is the guy advertised in the Miner’s poster as “Young Sharkey,” but another internet source made me stop short. Tom Sharkey was born in 1873, hardly young even by 1900. And his fight career had a large hiatus during the years 1904-1923. Wikipedia and Cyberboxingzone.com make it clear that Tom Sharkey’s ringside moniker was “Sailor Tom,” so my best guess is that Miner’s put up a Sharkey wannabe against Jim Galvin, another pug whose modest turn of the century fight career is verifiable.

Joe Wagner, also a featured pugilist at Miner’s that week, is an easier case: Wagner was active in New York during 1908-17, fighting in the Bronx, Albany, and Brooklyn. Another 1910 collectors card I found on e-Bay shows Wagner in classic pose.

Joe-WagnerThe funnel narrows on the date of the lantern slide photo when you look at the date advertised for the “Athletic Jubilee” in which Wagner and Sharkey (Young or not) went a few rounds. Wednesday April 15th. Reverse perpetual calendars are handy things. 1903, 1908, and 1914 had such a date. Wagner’s career probably didn’t start ‘til 1908. Israel Silverman’s frame store is not listed in the 1914 editions of Trow’s directories. QED, we have a winner: 1908 is the date of the lantern slide, in all likelihood.

Miner’s Bowery Theater touted in the broadside as “The Bowery Hall of Fame” was perhaps the most famous of the Miner performance halls in New York. Harry C. Miner got his start in New York after Reconstruction, managing theaters for other owners as well as owning and operating eponymous establishments. His Bowery hall at #165 (the number varies a bit over the years) appears in Trow’s by 1879, and the structure still stands on the east side of the boulevard, just south of Delancey Street. Home today to a carpet store and known as #169, Miner’s Bowery was soon joined by Miner’s Eighth Avenue Theatre at 312 8th, and by the People’s Theatre, erected by Miner at 201 Bowery in 1883.

English-language productions were a fixture on the Bowery starting in the late 1820s, but tides of Germans, Jews, Italians and Chinese changed the tongues heard on local stages as these immigrant swarmed into the neighborhood later in the century. By the end of the 1800s only two English language houses remained. German theater had already folled the wholesale exodus of its fans from the Lower East Side’s Little Germany to Williamsburg, Bushwick and uptown Yorkville. An unquenchable thirst among “nativist” Americans for low-class vaudeville and risque tableaux kept the box-office humming at the oldest Miner establishment with devotees from throughout the metropolitan area. Though its second Bowery location closed and moved to the Bronx, Miner’s Bowery remained a neighborhood staple, with amateur nights showcasing future legends well into the 20th century.

amateur-night-at-miners-rt-sizeGeorge M. Cohan, Al Jolson, Weber and Fields, and Eddie Cantor all made their debuts at Miner’s Bowery, where one Friday night in 1903 “give ‘em the hook” was heard for the very first time. Long periods of darkness and foreign languages finally took over the house, and Miner’s tenure on the street ended ingloriously when the building burned in 1929.

Walk down the Bowery now day or night; it’s hard to imagine all that once was. The screech of the Third Avenue elevated drowned out even the heartiest calls from the masses of sailors and drovers, gamblers and pimps who swaggered and staggered from Park Row up and back to Cooper Square. Even the drunks and the whores are mostly gone, their empty bottles of cheap wine and sorry trade now supplied elsewhere. Nowadays, an eerie quiet descends on the post-rush hour Bowery from Canal north to Houston, after traffic down to the Manhattan Bridge plaza slackens. Things get slow and sometimes still, though hipsters have started a small rebirth. Out at Green-Wood’s Dell Water shimmer, Henry Clay Miner sleeps in peace. The roar of the greasepaint makes the only sound.

Henry-Miner-rt-sizeWhat can you find when you turn a rock over? Worms by zillions live under the loam. Why would you do it, kick that stone over? You see some mud, some dirt and bugs. I see rubies, sparkles of gold.

Why? they ask me. I just stare. It’s pointless to try, I can’t explain. Res ipsa loquitur, close your eyes. Come with me, I’ll show you where…

 

This post was originally published November 22, 2006 on The New York Wanderer

 

Benjamin Feldman has lived and worked in New York City since 1969.  His essays and book reviews about New York City, American history, and Yiddish culture have appeared online and in print in CUNY’s Gotham History Blotter, The New Partisan Review, Columbia County History and Heritage, and Ducts literary magazine.  Read more about Feldman and his work on his blog, The New York Wanderer.

street book coverDid you ever wonder after whom Bleecker Street or Abingdon Square were named?  Is Union Square named so after Civil War soldiers?  Was there a spring running down Spring Street?  New York’s history can be gleaned from the history of its street names as outlined in Henry Moscow’s The Street Book: An Encyclopedia of Manhattan’s Street Names and Their Origins, one of several books available about the namesakes of our city’s streets.

Here are excerpts from a few of many interesting ones:

Abingdon Square

The Namesake: Charlotte Warren, a pre-Revolutionary War Greenwich Village belle, who became the bride of the Earl of Abingdon.  Here father was Admiral Sir Peter Warren, a naval hero and New York social lion, and her mother was the beautiful and wealthy Susannah de Lancey. (page 20)

Bowery

The Namesake: Peter Stuyvesant’s farm, bouwerij, to which the road led from the more settled parts of New Amsterdam,  The farm’s main house stood between 15th and 16th streets, just east of First Avenue.  (page 29)

The mansion of Sir Peter Warren, through whose property Bleecker Street ran.

The mansion of Sir Peter Warren, through whose property Bleecker Street ran.

Bleecker Street

The Namesake: Anthony Bleecker, an early 19th-century Greenwich Village literatus.  The street, the land for which was deeded to the city in 1807, already ran through the Bleecker family farm.  … Bleecker was a friend of Washington Irving and William Cullen Bryant. His prose poetry appeared in a variety of periodicals during some thirty years, and Bryant once reported that Eliza Fenno had left town in 1811 simply to get away from Bleecker’s puns. (page 29)

William Bedlow Crosby (1786-1865) painted by Samuel Lovett Waldo

William Bedlow Crosby (1786-1865) painted by Samuel Lovett Waldo

Crosby Street

The Namesake: William Bedlow Crosby, early 19th-century philanthropist.  When both of his parents died two years after his birth in 1786, Crosby was adopted by his mother’s uncle, Henry Rutgers.  Crosby inherited the Crosby wealth and devoted his life to good works. (page 42)

Rivington Street

The Namesake: James Rivington, publisher of the pro-British newspaper Royal Gazette in New York during the Revolutionary War. …Because the paper printed both sides of every poitical issue, an unprecedented practive, its plant was wrecked by patriot extremists and put out of business.  Under British occupation of the city, Rivington resumed publication, and supported the King.  Rivington Street was named for him during thewar.  The street name was retained and Rivington himself was allowed to stay after British evacuation because he publicly repented his Tory sympathies and because, it was said, he had secretly aided Washington’s spies in the city.

Spring Street

The Namesake: a spring that originated there, at West Broadway, and once served as a source of water for residents.  (page 96)

Union Square

The Namesake: the junction of many roads and streets there. The square was named Union Place in 1808, when the commissioners who were laying out the city onthe grid plan decreed that the area should remain open.  It was renamed Union Square in 1832. (page 102)

 

This and other books about New York street names:

Feirstein, Sanna. Naming New York: Manhattan Places & How They Got Their Names. New York: New York University Press, 2001.

McNamara, John. History in Asphalt: The Origin of Bronx Street and Place Names, Borough of the Bronx, New York City. Harrison, N.Y: Published in collaboration with the Bronx County Historical Society [by] Harbor Hill Books, 1978.

Moscow, Henry, and Thomas Tracy. The Street Book: An Encyclopedia of Manhattan’s Street Names and Their Origins. New York, N.Y: Fordham University Press, 1978.

Rogerson, Don. Manhattan Street Names Past and Present. New York: Griffin Rose Press, 2013.

Ulmann, Albert. A Landmark History of New York: Also the Origin of Street Names and a Bibliography. New York: D. Appleton and Co, 1906.

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City Notebook by McCandlish Phillips

City Notebook by McCandlish Phillips

Earlier this year, New York lost one of its all-time greatest chroniclers.  Mclandlish Phillips, a reporter for the New York Times who later left journalism to spread the Gospel, became known for his local reporting, as well as his lyrical articles about vanishing institutions in an ever-changing New York.

In his 1962 collection of writings, City Notebook: A Reporter’s Portrait of a Vanishing New York, Phillips remembers “Book Row,” the area just south of Union Square centered on Fourth Avenue that used to be New York’s used book center.  He recalls a conversation between Jack Biblio and Jack Tannen, founders of Biblio & Tannen at 63 Fourth Avenue:

“We came from a slum neighborhood—East New York in Brooklyn,” Mr. Biblio said.  “In those days, a penny was a lot, but a bunch of us were terribly interested in books and the rental of a Tarzan book in a store on Pitkin Avenue was ten cents for three days.

“Five of us kids each chipped in two cents, and all five of us read that whole book in three days.  We didn’t need a quick-reading course.”

“To work for one dollar a day in a bookstore—just to be in a bookstore—that was Nirvana,” Mr. Biblio said.  “Kids today won’t start for ninety dollars a week.  It’s nothing today for a boy ten years old to come in and pull out a ten dollar bill.  It’s quite a different world.”

“We started the business in 1928,” Mr. Tannen said.  “We slept in the back room and we worked eighteen hours a day and we each took a dollar-a-day out for the first three years.”

“We didn’t have hours.  As long as a customer was in the place, we stayed open,” Mr. Biblio said.

“If a customer came in and spent one dollar—big sale—we’d go out and have coffee and,” Mr. Tannen said, implying Danish.

Phillips’ book is chock full of anechdotes such as these, that only a seasoned reporter, who was also a seasoned New Yorker, could amass.

McCandlish Phillips getting the lowdown from a highly placed circus source (image: Librado Romero/The New York Times)

McCandlish Phillips getting the lowdown from a highly placed circus source (image: Librado Romero/The New York Times)

The breadth of Phillips’ coverage is also evidenced by the headlines to which his byline is attached, such as: “City Surlpus of Elks, Rams and Yaks Declines: High Bids Totaling $793.50 Accepted for 34 Left-Over Animals from Zoos,” “In Van Cortlandt: Bodies Washed Up on Lake Shore—Park Aide Says Silt Cut Off Oxygen,” “Singer Takes Charm to Rikers Island,” and “Aged Wait in Stony Solitude, But Not for Buses.”

Phillips’s most renowned article appeared on Page 1 on Sunday, Oct. 31, 1965, under the headline “State Klan Leader Hides Secret of Jewish Origin.”  In this article, that won him widespread praise and notice, Phillips reveals that Daniel Burros, a 28-year-old Queens man who was the Grand Dragon of the New York State Ku Klux Klan, a chief organizer of the national Klan and a former national secretary of the American Nazi Party was also a Jew — a former Hebrew school student who had been bar mitzvahed at 13.

While still working at the Times, Phillips helped found The New Testament Missionary Fellowship, a Pentecostal congregation.  In 1973, Phillips left the Times and journalism to preach the Gospel on the Columbia University campus and to work with the fellowship.  Phillips died in April of this year at the age of 85.

McClandish Phillips in 1962 (image: John Orris/The New York Times)

McCandlish Phillips in 1962 (image: John Orris/The New York Times)

Phillips will be remembered by fans of New Yorkiana for his unique flair for New York writing and his commitment to getting the story straight.  The  New York Times obituary for Phillips quotes his 1969 article about the closing of Lindy’s Delicatessen, a New York institution:

“What kind of a day is today? It’s the kind of a day that if you wanted a slice of cheesecake at Lindy’s, you couldn’t get it.”

Near the end of the article, he wrote, with plain-spoken, impeccable logic:

“The locusts stripped the place of menus and ashtrays and other mementos. There were conflicting claimants to possession of the last bagel. As a souvenir, a bagel is not much good. It is perishable and it also lacks proof. Anyone can hold up a bagel and say, ‘This is the last bagel from Lindy’s.’ ”

Phillips, McCandlish. City Notebook: A Reporter’s Portrait of a Vanishing New York. New York: Liveright, 1974.

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golemandjinni_pbkTHE GOLEM AND THE JINNI
By Helene Wecker
486 pp., Harper, $26.99

From the Harper Collins website:

In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

 

riddle of the labyrinthTHE RIDDLE OF THE LABYRINTH: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code
By Margalit Fox
Illustrated. 363 pp, Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers, $27.99

From the back cover:

The Riddle of the Labyrinth is the true story of the quest to solve one of the most mesmerizing riddles in history—Linear B—and of the three brilliant, obsessed, and ultimately doomed investigators whose combined work would eventually crack the code. There was Evans, who had discovered the script but could never unravel it; Alice Kober, the fiery American scholar whose vital work on Linear B never got the recognition it deserved; and Michael Ventris, the haunted English architect who would solve the riddle triumphantly at the age of thirty only to die four years later under circumstances that remain the subject of speculation even now.

For half a century some of the world’s foremost scholars tried to coax the tablets to yield their secrets. Then, in 1952, the script was deciphered seemingly in a single stroke—not by a scholar but by Ventris, an impassioned amateur whose obsession with the tablets had begun in childhood. The decipherment brought him worldwide acclaim. But it also cost him his architectural career, his ties to his family, and quite possibly his life.

That is the narrative of the decipherment as it has been known thus far. But a major actor in the drama has long been missing: Alice Kober, a classicist at Brooklyn College. Though largely forgotten today, she came within a hair’s breadth of deciphering Linear B before her own untimely death in 1950. As The Riddle of the Labyrinth reveals, it was Kober who built the foundation on which Ventris’s decipherment stood, an achievement that until now has been all but lost to history. Drawing on a newly opened archive of Kober’s papers, Margalit Fox restores this unsung heroine to her rightful place at last.

 

topsyTOPSY: The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison
By Michael Daly
288 pp., Atlantic Monthly Press, $27.00

From Amazon.com:

In 1903, on Coney Island, an elephant named Topsy was electrocuted, and over the past century, this bizarre, ghoulish execution has reverberated through popular culture with the whiff of urban legend. But it really happened, and many historical forces conspired to bring Topsy, Thomas Edison, and those 6600 volts of alternating current together that day. Tracing them all in Topsy The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison, journalist Michael Daly weaves together a fascinating popular history, the first book on this astonishing tale.

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HarrietSpy1When I grow up I’m going to find out everything about everybody and put it all in a book.

—Harriet M. Welsch in Harriet the Spy

 Harriet M. Welsch would have made an excellent blogger.  The title character in Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 young adult novel is a spunky Upper East Side kid with a constant burning desire to record her observations of those around her as well as her own feelings toward them.  She has probably inspired a generation of aspiring writers, including myself, to observe and record their worlds, no matter how small or mundane.

Harriet’s world revolves around her uptown neighborhood and the characters who inhabit it.  She wants to be a spy and a writer when she grows up.  And to this end, she fills notebook after notebook with notes gathered during her spy route, a series of homes she clandestinely visits each day, and snarky comments about her classmates.  Through Harriet’s eyes, we see the struggles of the local grocer’s family, the loneliness of a cat-loving bachelor, the neuroses of a bed-ridden hypochondriac, as well as many other characters, all through the eyes of an eleven-year-old child.

We also see Harriet’s life as an upper-middle-class New York kid as she is often ignored by her self-involved parents and left in the care of Old Golly, her wise and loving nurse and, after the nurse leaves the household, the cook.  When Harriet gets into a fix, she does not rely on lessons learned from her mother or father but, rather, tries to imagine what Ole Golly would advise her to do.

An illustration by the author from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

An illustration by the author from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet’s keen powers of observation get her in trouble when her classmates find and read one of her notebooks, revealing her many harsh criticisms (as well as compliments) about them.  Harriet later apologizes for her comments by printing a retraction.  The book quietly condones, within reason, eavesdropping as well as (white) lying and praises those who stick to their convictions even if it means talking back to elders.  In a letter, Old Golly tells Harriet, “Little lies that make people feel better are not bad, like thanking someone for a meal they made even if you hated it, or telling a sick person they look better when they don’t, or someone with a hideous new hat that it’s lovely. But to yourself you must tell the truth”

When the book was first published, some tried to have the book banned, stating that it “teaches children to lie, spy, back-talk and curse,” but this effort was unsuccessful and Harriet the Spy went on to become a juvenile classic.  It spoke to many audiences, but especially to readers who sympathized with Harriet’s status as an outsider at school.  An NPR report on the book explains:

Louise Fitzhugh, author of Harriet the Spy

Louise Fitzhugh, author of Harriet the Spy

These days, girls can read books about all kinds of kids, facing all kinds of real problems. But back in the 1960s, when Kathleen Horning, the director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, was growing up, the pickings were slimmer.

“There was a whole genre called the ‘tomboy story’ where a girl rebels in that way, but at the end everything is wonderful because she really is a girl and she gets very feminine,” remembers Horning.

Horning says she was a tomboy who didn’t want to reform. Later on, she realized she was a lesbian. What does that have to do with Harriet the Spy? A lot, says Horning. The book’s author Louise Fitzhugh, was also gay, and although Harriet’s sexuality is never touched on in the book, her boy’s clothes and bravado sent a message to some kids who felt different and didn’t know why.

“I have talked to so many adult lesbians who felt the same way about Harriet,” Horning says. “Particularly if you were growing up in the sixties when you really didn’t have any other people like you, Harriet was it. What the book told us is that we could be ourselves and survive.”

Harriet was a role model for all children who struggled with difference.  She shows readers, girls and boys alike, that belief in oneself, regardless of how others see you, is not only essential but liberating.  Although she apologizes publicly for what she wrote about others, she never apologizes to herself for being honest, boldly declaring, “I love myself.”  She is still the same Harriet we met at the beginning of the novel, only a bit older, and a lot wiser.

 

Fitzhugh, Louise. Harriet, the Spy. New York: Harper & Row, 1964.

 

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jernigan bookCandy Jernigan’s (1952-1991) world extended way beyond the streets of New York City, yet she lived in New York during much of her too-short life, and it was the streets of her adopted hometown that were often her muse and canvas.

Jernigan was born in a decidedly unglamorous part of Miami, attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, moved to Provincetown, MA and then back to New York again in 1980 when she began collecting her “evidence,” which Jernigan described as “any and all physical proof” that she had been somewhere.  In his introduction to the monograph Evidence: The Art of Candy Jernigan, Stokes Howell explains:

In collecting and creating her art, Candy operated like a forensic pathologist.  Traveling down the street with her, you quickly got into her habit of examining the ground in front of you to see what treasures might have been tossed away on the sidewalk or into the gutter.  If she was on the lookout for pop tops from soft drink cans, you found yourself walking with your head down scanning from side to side looking for pop tops, too, even though you had no reason to, because Candy only used objects she herself collected and documented.  But you did it anyway, because you had begun to look at the world through her eyes.

New York City Rat by Candy Jernigan

New York City Rat by Candy Jernigan

Howell also quotes Ken Tisa, Jernigan’s friend and fellow artist, who says:

She made me rethink things I would ordinarily dismiss or run from.  She was one artist who pointed us in the direction of beauty within the scum of the city.  Everyone who wants to see art in New York looks up.  Candy looked down.  She was interested in what was most banal, what people didn’t want.  She wanted to make us desire the undesirable and she succeeded.

Pot Crushed on Houston by Candy Jernigan

Pot Crushed on Houston by Candy Jernigan

Jernigan framed a crushed pot she found on the street and titled the work, “Pot Crushed on Houston.”  She found a dead rat, had it stuffed, and titled it “New York City Rat.”  Her work “Found Dope II” consists of crack vials and caps she found in her neighborhood and an accompanying map indicating the place and time at which each item was found.  She also drew sketches of food and landscapes that she sometimes embellished with labels, photos, or found text and collected objects and ephemera during her travels abroad that she compiled into elaborate travel journals that included dust from the Sistine Chapel, anise seeds from India, and a coffee stain from Gambia.

To look at Jernigan’s work, documentation of the ordinary that was specific to her own life, is quite moving, even in reproduction.  She gives us glimpses of her New York life, her New York story, and it makes us realize that hers is just one of millions of interconnected yet unique stories, each as significant and meaningful as the next and reminds us that our own stories rely on those of others to be told.

 

Jernigan, Candy, Laurie Dolphin, and John B. Taylor. Evidence: The Art of Candy Jernigan. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999.

New York: 24 Cheez Doodles by Candy Jernigan

New York: 24 Cheez Doodles by Candy Jernigan

 

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here is new yorkAs I was looking though my bookshelf for something to read on the train, I noticed two slim volumes sitting quietly side by side: E.B. White’s Here is New York and Colson Whitehead’s The Colossus of New York.  I grabbed them both and used my time on the subway to revisit them, one on the way uptown, the other on the way down.

These two works have found themselves in each other’s company before, no doubt.  They are, at least on the surface, ripe for comparison, in that they are both brief, personal love letters to New York City, though their authors are separated by, among other things, time and circumstance.

White’s essay, originally published as an article in Holiday magazine, and then in book form, was written in his sweltering hotel room during a visit to New York in the summer of 1949. He observes:

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.

colossus of new yorkWhite falls into the third category of New Yorks—born in Mount Vernon, he was a New York settler until 1938, when he moved to Maine.  Colson Whitehead, on the other hand, is a born and bred native.  On being a true New Yorker, he writes in his 2003 book The Colossus of New York:

You swallow hard when you discover that the old coffee shop is now a chain pharmacy, that the place where you first kissed so-and-so is now a discount electronics retailer, that where you bought this very jacket is now rubble behind a blue plywood fence and a future office building. Damage has been done to your city. You say, ”It happened overnight.” But of course it didn’t. Your pizza parlor, his shoeshine stand, her hat store: when they were here, we neglected them. For all you know, the place closed down moments after the last time you walked out the door. (Ten months ago? Six years? Fifteen? You can’t remember, can you?) And there have been five stores in that spot before the travel agency. Five different neighborhoods coming and going between then and now, other people’s other cities. Or 15, 25, 100 neighborhoods. Thousands of people pass that storefront every day, each one haunting the streets of his or her own New York, not one of them seeing the same thing.

Being a native New Yorker myself, I can relate to Whitehead’s idea of having one’s own New York, how each person here sees his or her own story in the city’s streets, all of them unique and specific to that person.  I can also confirm that the starry-eyed transplants, the third of White’s New Yorks, give our fair city an energy that is unique to cities where almost everyone is from someplace else.  But I must protest when White asserts that “[i]t is this third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements.”

It is the very fact that we have all three of White’s New Yorks, the commuters, the natives, and the settlers, that this city has a passion that attracts the passion of others.  Without a perfectly-balanced cast of Whites, Whiteheads, as well as throngs of itinerant men and women in white shirts, the curtain would go down on the never-ending universal drama that is New York.  It is the constant ebb and flow of the tension and relaxation created by the intermingling of these three cities that allows New York to constantly generate the high-strung passion that is its life force.

Toward the end of Colossus, Whitehead writes that “Talking about New York is a way of talking about the world.”  In the micro you see the macro, or as White movingly observes:

A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.

All this, for the price of two swipes of a Metrocard.

 

White, E B. Here Is New York. New York: Harper, 1949.
 
Whitehead, Colson. The Colossus of New York: A City in Thirteen Parts. New York: Doubleday, 2003

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A publicity pamphlet for The Sunwise Turn Bookshop (image: Make It New: The Rise of Modernism)

In her September 1, 2011 New York Times essay, “A Portal to 1920s Greenwich Village,” Jennifer Schuessler discusses the new online exhibition from the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin entitled, “The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 1920-1925.”  At the center of the exhibition is a door from Frank Shay’s 1920’s Greenwich Village bookshop that is covered with 244 signatures of the shop’s visitors.  It includes those of famous writers such as Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, and Sinclair Lewis, as well as neighborhood eccentrics and unidentified book enthusiasts and reflects the lively literary world of 1920’s New York.  Shay “not only sold and published books, but ran a circulating library, lectured on bookselling, edited volumes of plays for other publishing houses, and even won a prize for his window displays. Most importantly, he cultivated a community: publishers, writers, artists, book collectors, magazine editors, cartoonists, academics, book designers, theater directors and more.”

Also at the Ransom Center, though not part of this exhibition, are the records of The Sunwise Turn Bookshop, purchased by the Ransom Center in 1977.  Sunwise Turn, founded and operated by Mary Mowbray-Clarke and Madge Jenison, was located in midtown Manhattan from 1916 until it closed in 1927 was concurrent with Shay’s shop.  One of the first bookstores in the U.S. to be owned by women, Sunwise Turn sponsored lectures by Robert Frost, Theodore Dreiser, and Amy Lowell among others.  It was the first “gallery” to exhibit the work of the painter Charles Burchfield among other new artists of the time, which perhaps influenced the artistic tastes of their young intern named Peggy Guggenheim.

Of the store’s interiors, Madge Jenison writes in her memoir Sunwise Turn: A Human Comedy of Bookselling that they “intended the room to look like a place in which you could read a book.  We were to conduct it like life, and it was to look like life.”  In the catalog for a past Ransom Center exhibition entitled “Make it New: The Rise of Modernism,” Edward Bishop explains that by lavishly decorating the interior of their store, the proprietors of Sunwise Turn were “creating a space for reading, not just buying books,” and that they “saw themselves as cultural missionaries in the capitalist jungle of Manhattan.”  Like Frank Shay, they also published books and worked hard to cultivate a literary community, but, in the end, the store was bought out by Doubleday and became part of the “jungle” it was fighting against.  Christopher Morley’s description of Shay’s store in his essay “Wine that Was Spilt in Haste” (1931) applies equally to its contemporary, Sunwise Turn:  It was too personal, too enchanting, too Bohemian a bookshop to survive indefinitely, but for five or six years it played a very real part in the creative life of New York.

Bishop, Ted. “The Sunwise Turn: The Modern Bookshop.” Make It New: The Rise of Modernism. Edited by Kurt Heinzelman. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2004.

Harry Ransom Center.  “The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 1920-1925.”  Accessed October 11, 2011.  http://research.hrc.utexas.edu/bookshopdoor/theshop.cfm#1

Jenison, Madge. Sunwise Turn: A Human Comedy of Bookselling. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company, 1923.

Schuessler, Jennifer. “A Portal to 1920s Greenwich Village.”  The New York Times. September 1, 2011.

This post originally appeared on 10/3/11.

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