Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jersey Street 1968

The Staten Island Advance had a great page from its October 30, 1968 edition yesterday.  While hard to read, it shows several terrible pictures of Jersey Street's decaying storefronts in that year.  Jersey Street's history and decline is something I've written about several times in the past.

When I was a kid taking the old No. 5 bus to Curtis in 1980 I'd pass what I'm pretty sure was this stretch of buildings.  On had a tree growing out of it.  And then in 1983 or 1984 they were gone.

The long stretch of vacant stores were ripped down, presumably by the city, and replaced with fairly unattractive townhouses.  Still, it was a better alternative than letting the stores continue abandoned and present fire and safety hazards to the neighborhood.

I only wonder that the Advance doesn't appear to offer any speculation as to why the stores were abandoned.  Port Richmond stayed a viable shopping strip until some years after the Mall opened in New Springville.  Stapleton lingered on and still does to a some degree.  What caused Jersey Street to suddenly collapse?  Perhaps it was the projects?  Was it the Jewish working class moving up and away?  What, when and how did this happen to such a vibrant neighborhood?


Bob Miller said...

When I was growing up in the 1950's we lived in West Brighton but our synagogue was the "Jersey Street Shul" (Agudath Achim Anshe Chesed) not far from Brighton Ave. By that time, nearly all the Jews had moved away from that part of New Brighton to other neighborhoods. Earlier in the 1900's most of the congregation, including my father's family on Winter Ave., lived nearby. My grandfather was a milk distributor for Borden's and initially made deliveries with horse-drawn wagons.

Bob Miller said...

By the way, the shopping scene on Richmond Ave. (now Port Richmond Ave.) in Port Richmond was already decaying when the mid-island stores (such as Korvette's) and then the mall were built. The prior building of a shopping center (Forest Avenue Shopper's Town) on Forest between Barrett and Decker seemed to start this process. That part of Forest Ave. already had a Sears and Robert Hall.

The Wasp said...

Great information, thank you. I grew up on Cebra near Victory. Bnai Jeshrun and Tifreth were closed (or nearly) when I was growing up and I was fascinated by these two empty houses of worship. I only came to learn about the Jewish community of New Brighton over the past couple of years.
I'm believe the Jewish history of the North Shore doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. Perhaps, like the Scandinavians and Germans it's because so many moved off-Island over the past forty years.
I'm just old enough to remember Port Richmond pre-mall and even as a kid knew it had seen better days. As to the Plaza and its environs, I got my first suit at Robert Hall and all my Cub Scout gear in the Penny's lower level.