Yesterday’s New York Sun article “Manhattan’s Lower East Side
Enjoys a Renaissance,” penned by contributing editor and realty bigwig
Michael Stoler, was a typical paean to how the neighborhood’s unsavory
past is being replaced by a gleaming steel-and-glass present, all thanks
to the magic of redevelopment. Typical, that is, aside from its second
“Until fairly recently the Bowery always possessed the
greatest number of groggeries, flophouses, clip joints, brothels, fire
sales, rigged auctions, pawnbrokers, dime museums, shooting galleries,
dime-a-dance establishments, fortune-telling and lottery agencies, thieves
markets and tattoo parlors, as well as second and third rate theaters,”
the director of Eastern Consolidated Properties, Alan Miller,
“Groggeries”? “Dime-a-dance establishments”? What is this, 1880?
As it turns out, yes. The quote attributed to Miller was, in fact, lifted
verbatim from Luc Sante’s book Low Life, describing the lower-class
environs that flourished on the Lower East Side in the late 19th century.
here.) Sante wrote those words in 1992, but even then his “fairly
recently” was meant on a historical time scale, not something you might
have seen stumbling home from a show at CBGB’s.
Stoler, in an e-mail to Power Plays, apologized for the mix up, saying
Miller “should have told me that he took that quote.” Left unexplained was
how a New York City real estate expert and newspaper editor managed to
think that “thieves markets” survived into the present-day Lower East
Side. (Second- and third-rate theaters we can vouch for.) As was how Sun
readers might feel about having Lower East Side redevelopment sold to them
as the needed remedy for the horrors of the gaslight era.