The Boom on Bleecker


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

November 26, 1958, Vol. IV, No. 5

The Boom on Bleecker

By John Wilcock

A dingy-looking stretch of three or four blocks along famous Bleecker Street is one of the busiest areas in the Village today. It isn’t quite accurate to say that it has become the Village’s new main street–8th Street will probably hold that title for a long time to come–but its character is changing tremendously, and the change is for the better.

During the past 18 months or so, I’ve walked or driven westward along Bleecker a number of times, and it has seemed that scarcely a week has gone by without some new signs of life springing up amid the profusion of old Italian grocery stores and dime-a-beer bars.

The most interesting aspect of all this activity is that most of the new or refurbished places have been of pretty much the same type, falling into that hard-to-describe category that is usually tagged “Village-y.” Coffee shops, for example, as well as little theatres and stores selling such specialized items as guitars and hand-made leather belts.

As a matter of fact, the stretch of Bleecker that I have in mind, between MacDougal Street and West Broadway, both begins and ends in coffee shops. Two of them, the Borgia in the west and the Cock-‘n’-Bull in the east, have opened this year, and the third, Le Figaro, on the southeast corner of Bleecker and MacDougal, hasn’t yet celebrated its second birthday…

Art D’Lugoff, whose Village Gate rathskeller beneath the Greenwich Hotel is the biggest of the new spots that have opened this year, thinks that the area’s future lies in becoming more international.

His own place features performances by dancers and singers from many different countries as well as offering 90 beers fom all parts of the world. And, in support of D’Lugoff’s theory, Jerry Zalon plans another Japanese restaurant (he opened the Cho Cho San on MacDougal some weeks ago), and an English fish-and-chips shop has just opened around the corner, at 183 Sullivan Street…

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]