Posts Tagged ‘Avenue C’

When Avenue C was renamed Loisaida

March 16, 2012

Back in the 1970s, the Spanglish bastardization of “Lower East Side” entered the local lexicon.

The new neighborhood name came from a poem by a community activist named Bimbo Rivas. He also pioneered the Nuyorican movement—a collection of artists of Puerto Rican descent centered on the East Village.

As the neighborhood’s Hispanic population grew, Loisaida was increasingly tossed around in mainstream publications, on storefronts, and in maps. An official street sign even went up in 1987 on Avenue C between 14th and Houston Streets.

But you hear it much less these days—a casualty of gentrification. The 2010 census found that for the first time since the 1980s, Hispanics make up less than half of the population East of Avenue B.

I wonder how many of the new residents know what Loisaida means?

[Loisaida Drugs & Surgicals (Avenue C and East Third Street) photo: from the Bridge and Tunnel Club]

Strange names for some city playgrounds

January 17, 2011

On 17th Street and Avenue C east of Stuyvesant Town is a little spit of land called “Murphy’s Brother’s Playground.”

So who was Murphy and why did his brother get a playground named after him?

It goes back to when this area was part of the old Gas House District and Tammany Hall ruled Manhattan politics.

John J. Murphy was the son of poor Irish immigrants who made a fortune in construction in the late 19th century and became a local politician.

But he owed a lot of his good fortune to his brother, a local saloon keeper and eventual bigwig at Tammany Hall named “Silent Charlie” Murphy.

In 1985, what was then Murphy Park underwent a name change to acknowledge Silent Charlie.

Though why Parks officials didn’t use his actual name is a mystery. Who wants to only be known as someone’s brother?

Poor Richard’s Playground, on Third Avenue and 108th Street, is a nod to the Poor Richard of Poor Richard’s Almanac, aka Benjamin Franklin.

Why pay homage to Ben Franklin? The playground is next to the city-owned Benjamin Franklin Houses.

A short-lived club in the 1980s East Village

May 6, 2009

Before wine bars, bank branches, and sushi restaurants took over the East Village, there were hole-in-the-wall clubs like 8BC, a gallery and performance space on Eighth Street between Avenues B and C. Opened in 1983, the place was over by the end of 1985.

8bcphoto

The club is long-gone, but the tenement building still stands today. Of course, the art and graffiti has all been cleaned off and the facade spruced up and bricked over. And instead of empty lots, it’s flanked on both sides by gardens.