Posts Tagged ‘Est 14th Street’

The Italian Labor Center’s 14th Street carvings

November 29, 2010

Where Beauty Bar attracts a crowd now was once the headquarters of the Italian Labor Center, at 231 East 14th Street.

Built in 1919, when this corner of the East Village was a mini Little Italy, it also served as the home base of the Cloakmakers union.

The old marble sign is still there, flanked by two interesting bas reliefs that seem to oppose each other.

The carving on the right depicts a man (a worker, with a shovel), woman, and baby seemingly content with no drama.

On the left, however, the woman is suckling a snake, her hair electrified and her face contorted in pain. Her child is scrambling from her in terror. Her husband is in the background, hard at work digging or plowing, oblivious to the turmoil.

“The carvings are probably the work of Onorio Ruotolo, poet and sculptor, whose works in that period dealt with the theme of workers and their resistance to exploitation,” states The Lost World of Italian American Radicalism.