Posts Tagged ‘Italian East Harlem’

Three ways of viewing a Lexington Avenue corner

September 3, 2012

In 1915, when this photo was taken, Lexington Avenue at 116th Street was firmly in the Little Italy of East Harlem, hence the Italian in the signs on the far right above a chemist’s office.

“This section of East Harlem was developed  during the 1880s with the familiar New York brownstone residences and walk-up apartments,” states New York Then and Now, where the photo and the one below appear.

“One block west is the elevated crossing of the New York Central and New Haven Railroads on Park Avenue. The Subway Cafe, on the right-hand corner, anticipates the opening of the Lexington Avenue subway by three years.”

By 1975, the Italian neighborhood is mostly gone; Puerto Rican New Yorkers have moved in. The buildings themselves haven’t changed much—and the Bloomingdale’s ad from 1915 is visible 60 years later.

In 2012, the streetscape still looks similar. The corner building that went from saloon to Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet is now home to a taco shop, a sign of the neighborhood’s Mexican population.

And though the Bloomingdale’s ad on the corner has been painted over, next to it out of view, a second Bloomingdale’s ad is still legible! Here it is from an earlier Ephemeral post.

Two of the nicest street names in New York City

July 11, 2009

Bliss Street has a sweet ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s the original, early 20th century moniker of what was later renamed 46th Street in Sunnyside, Queens.

BlissstreesignBliss Street is probably associated with Neziah Bliss, a ship builder and real estate bigwig back when this part of Queens was farmland dotted with little villages.

In the mid-1800s, he founded a blink-and-you’ll miss-it industrial neighborhood bordering Long Island City called Blissville. The name barely survives today.

In 1982, Sunnyside residents decided they wanted Bliss Street added back to the map. It’s also the name of the nearby 7 train stop, 46th Street–Bliss Street.

Pleasant Avenue is, yep, pretty pleasant. This six-block stretch east of First Avenue between 114th and 120th Street was once the center of Italian-American East Harlem.

Pleasantavesign

It still has a rep for being a mob stronghold; Tony Salerno ran the Genovese crime family from here. And Italian restaurant Rao’s is tucked into a corner storefront at the south end of the street.

On warm weekends, a nearby playground is always flooded with little kids having a good time.