What a difference 107 years make on the tenement block of Elizabeth Street between Prince and Houston Streets.
In the first photo, taken in 1912 by Lewis Wickes Hine, trash is strewn on the uneven Belgian block pavement. Broken-down carts line the sidewalk; boys huddle in the doorway of a bar bearing a sign for the Kips Bay Brewing Company, founded in 1910.
Kids run around, men stand by storefronts, and laundry hangs from fire escapes laden with pots, pans, and other household items.
It’s a Little Italy street of poverty—but it’s also a hive of human activity, rich with the unpretty details of daily life.
Amazingly, the string of tenements at 260 to 268 Elizabeth Street still stand. They’ve been cleaned up and repainted, and the fire escapes are uniform and clean, almost elegant.
Expensive boutiques and a roasting company occupy the storefronts. The Kips Bay bar is gone, as is the tenement across Houston Street. The block is still and tidy, absent of human energy.
But the little 1820s Federal-style house with the dormer windows on the corner still hangs on. (It was once Colonial Cafe, RIP!)
[Top photo: LOC]