It’s a remnant of Kleindeutschland, the “Little Germany” that encompassed the East Village from the 1840s through the early 1900s.
The shooting gallery was at 12 St. Mark’s Place, east of Third Avenue. A bas relief carved into the facade gives away the building’s original purpose: it depicts an eagle, crossed guns, and a symbolic target, with the words Einigkeit Macht Stark (“unity is strength”) carved above.
This was the home of the Deutsch-Amerikanische Schuetzen Gesellschaft, or German American Shooting Society.
Built in 1888, it housed a saloon, lodge rooms, bowling alley, and a small shooting range in the basement (club members did most of the actual shooting in Queens).
“By the 1880s, shooting became a middle class pastime, and most halls had moved to the suburbs along with many residents of Kleindeutschland,” states a Landmarks Preservation Committee report.
“It served as a headquarters for meetings of twenty-four such groups, and was the site of fund-raisers for the construction of rifle ranges and travel to Germany for international shooting contests.”
The Shooting Society owned it until 1920, and in subsequent decades, it served as a Ukrainian Culture Center and St. Mark’s Bookshop.
Today it’s a yoga studio . . . of course!
[Top photo: King's Handbook of New York City, 1890s]