Here's another block of stores on (Port) Richmond Avenue. Between roughly 1939 and today it's become more than a little tattered. In the past there were nice, big, uncluttered display windows and attractive, striped awnings. Attractive architectural details, liked the zig-zag line of bricks, weren't obscured by ugly signage. So, here you go.
Back into the back streets today, with a mostly residential block. It's a mix of single- and multi-family homes. Not much else to say about them, except, these were where people lived, raised families, and then others did the same. Then the city declared it blighted and demolished them.
below - west side of Cedar Street at the old ball field
west side of Cedar St., north of the old ball field
below - south side of McKeon (Tompkins) Street at the S E corner of Cedar St.
1917 Map of Cedar Street
Approximate positions of houses in above photos and locations of no longer extant streets
I'm a startled at my recent burst of energy regarding the various reconstructions I've started of several lost Staten Island neighborhoods. With each new post I've been reminded a little bit more about why I started this: documenting places that have been destroyed or damaged that are worth remembering.
Staten Islanders talk a lot about the devastation wrought by development on the south shore, and while true, the north shore saw significant troubles as well. Whether it was the urban planners' deciding Stapleton's back streets were "blighted," or Port Richmond's stores falling prey to the Penny's Plaza, the north shore of the past is truly past. I believe it's worth documenting what that past looked like, if only to remind us, especially now as major development is taking place, that the Island's constantly changing. It's nothing new, it just needs to be handled with an eye toward not letting it look like garbage.
The first two pictures are from the north side of Castleton Avenue between State Street and Broadway. You can see it was very similar to the surrounding stretches of Castleton: commercial spaces with apartments above.
NE corner of State and Castleton
NW corner of Castleton and Broadway
The remaining pictures are of the west side of Broadway between Castleton and Market Street. Off the main thoroughfare, we get something we've seen a lot of these posts, a heterogeneous mix of stores and housing. There was even an attached house on the corner of Market Street (#04).
The biggest, saddest thing I'm taking away from the projects projects is that existing neighborhoods were declared blighted. They were then wiped out and replaced with mono-zoned high density buildings. Now, fifty-five years later, these neighborhoods are far more blighted and run down than they were before the housing projects. It's almost as if the urban planners decided to corral as many poor people as possible into a single location and then forgot about them.
Okay, I'm hooked now on presenting way more of Port Richmond's commercial past than I had planned. It's just too cool to pass on. I've been very happy with the responses I've gotten. Folks who grew up in the neighborhood have stepped right up and provided information on several of these long gone stores. I'm looking forward to what people have to tell us about this batch of buildings.
By the way - all the old pictures are from the CSI SI Archive and specifically from the tax photos taken in the late 30s and early 40s.
This picture's from 2007. Sometime in the last twenty years, the old Toscana sign was exposed.
As you can see, this building is now gone. I'm not sure when it was torn down. As late as 2007 (see below), it was still there.
A typical backstreet block, a mix of commerical and residential with a definite worn-out appearance. Even with my antipathy toward urban renewal and dislike of housing projects that pack people together like rats, these pictures show a pretty run down neighborhood. If this is what it looked like in the late thirties, I imagine twenty years only made it worse. Between the publication of the map (1917) and the photos (ca. 1940), several lots became vacant, not, I'd wager, a sign indicative of good neighborhood health.
When I see people, especially kids, in these pictures, I love it. They add a dimension of life to them that make it easier to imagine these lost place alive again. Then I realize these kids are in their eighties at least - if they're still alive.
After a lengthy delay, here's another series of recaptured images from a Stapleton lost over fifty years ago to urban renewal. That was the polite term for slum clearance, itself a polite way of describing the process whereby poor working class neighborhoods were destroyed to make way for some urban planner's dream. That dream meant eliminating older neighborhoods of mixed residential and commercial properties and replacing them with higher density housing projects, which rarely was an improvement.
I hadn't planned to get many pictures from (Port) Richmond Avenue. My reluctance was based primarily on the poor quality of many of those photos. I got such a surprising amount of interest in the first three Port Richmond posts, though, I figure I might as well give it a go. So here we go.
One of the things I've been struck by over the years I've done this site is how ubiquitous Roulston's grocery stores were. I have a picture of one on Van Duzer Street, and I know there was another on Henderson and Davis. I've seen others as well, I just can't remember where right now. For an interesting read about the heirs of the chain's founder, go HERE.
It's hard to read the signs, but the one on the right is for "Foot Savers," an old shoe brand, so I'm guessing Anson Dansky was a shoe store. It's also another example of the house/store combo shown the other day.
I have no idea what the building on the left was other than an apartment. Whatever store was on ground level is a mystery. If anyone knows, let us know.
Toy stores also seemed to have been common as dirt in the "old" days. One block of Broad Street had two, while there was another across the street and one more a block away. I'm curious how more will turn up on (Port) Richmond Avenue as we work our way along it.
Dairy, Ex-Lax (a whole store of it?), dresses, and more. The original storefronts got covered up only a few years ago.
The shape remains, but the skin is completely covered over. That's really not surprising for a building that's at least eighty years old.
I'd love to find a picture of the original Masonic Hall. Clearly it was pretty big, as the property was taken up by three buildings.