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Bond Street

Manhattan can be examined through many disparate lenses, and what exists on the surface does not always define a street or block. New York City’s true beauty lies in the different dimensions at which the area can be examined, and how these dimensions are interwoven with one another.

Bond Street, north of Houston Street and south of Washington Square Park between Broadway and the Bowery is composed of two blocks divided by Lafayette Street. While examining the life of a street is a mammoth task, capturing the spirit of the people who live and work there is even more comprehensive.

The architecture of the street is Bond’s strongest thread, weaving, connecting, and surrounding many aspects of Bond’s personality. Although it lives under the radar, Bond hosts an unusual group of buildings along its cobblestone streets. Walkups overgrown with ivy juxtapose chic, monochromatic lofts. A dated dive bar shares an outdoor space with a four star restaurant. A large art supply store with windows from the floor to the ceiling look directly into a men’s suit shop.

The proposed dichotomy of the street, under close examination, is not an accurate description of Bond. The intertwining of old and new, historic and futuristic, does not formulate Bond as a divided location, but rather a dimensional one. Imagine the street as a person, and the detectable differences are simply a reflection of its age and development.

Created in 1805 as the City Council began developing north of Houston Street, Bond was designed slightly wider than the surrounding streets. The wealthy inhabitants contributed to the image of Bond, drawing the attention of the 1833 guidebook ‘New York as It Is,’ which claimed the mansions on Bond ‘may vie, for beauty and taste, with European palaces.‘ [12]

Fast forward to the 1880s. Manufacturing tenants dominated the wide street, which provided ample light for their craft. However, by 1896, developers began instituting a Greek Revival theme as a subtle tribute to the street’s original glory. [12]

Although the last of the original mansions fell in 1930, Bond has been on a steady rise. Highlights for Bond include the 1970s art movement and the 1990s emphasis on preservation. [12]

In the context of art and preservation, The Gene Frankel Theater, constructed in 1893 at 24 Bond Street, is the premier example. Originally on the property of famed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, the theater has occupied the street floor since 1986 and was taken over by Gene Frankel in 1949. Designed by Buchman & Deisler in Renaissance Revival style, 24 Bond is truly unique due to its dozen dancing statues, sculpted by Bruce Williams and added to the exterior in 1998. The dusted gold dancers are whimsically arranged, and no two are the same. [8]

In 2008, 24 Bond was included in the NOHO Historic District via the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, thus the sculptures suddenly became an illegal fixture on a protected landmark. [15]

In 2009, at the Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing, the owner of 24 Bond, along with the sculptor and other local artists, protested the removal of the statues. The LPC ruled in favor of the art. In a celebratory fashion, Williams added additional dancers gliding up the building a year later. [3]

But the theater is not the only historical architecture on the street. The Robbins and Appleton Building, 1-5 Bond Street, was built in 1879-1880, designated a landmark in 1979, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The building was designed by architect Stephen Decatur Hatch, and built with an iron foundation to protect the structure from potential fire damage. The building was originally used by the publisher D. Appleton & Company, and for the manufacture of watchcases for the American Waltham Watch Company founded by Daniel F. Appleton and Henry A. Rabbins. Today, the building houses Blick Art Supplies on the first and lower floor. The rest of the building is residential. [11]

Residential buildings contribute as much as the neighboring public, commercial, and business spaces previously discussed. 25 Bond is home to one such building. Tony Goldman’s limestone apartment complex seamlessly clicks with the personality of Bond Street, which is metaphorically represented in the artwork between the building and cobblestone street.

“Goldman decided that he wanted to replace 100 feet of city sidewalk in front of his limestone building with granite slabs that would be carved by [Kenichi] Hiratsuka… a 26-year-old art school graduate three years into what has become a lifelong project of carving sidewalks and stone around the world.” [13] The neighborhood came out to support the artist, who finished the project in January of 2008. “The Earth is one huge rock. If I can carve a spiral, I can carve the entire thing. Up and down mountains, into the Indian Ocean. This is the thought experiment I leave on the sidewalk. Each carving continues into the next.” [13]

East end of Bond Street

Bond Street, a petite couple of blocks in NOHO, is bordered by (clockwise from left) Broadway, Great Jones Street, The Bowery, and Bleecker Street. Eventually turning into 2nd Street, Bond is divided into two parts by Lafayette Street. The quickest MTA route to Bond is via the Lexington Avenue Local ’6′ train, at the Bleecker / Lafayette stop.

Although small, Bond hosts an unusual group of buildings along its cobblestone streets. Walkups overgrown with ivy juxtapose chic, monochromatic lofts. Across the way, a dated dive bar shares an outdoor space with a four star restaurant. A large art supply store with windows from the floor to the ceiling look directly into a men’s suit shop.

However, the dichotomy of the street is precisely what makes it beautiful. The intertwining of old and new, historic and futuristic, prepares Bond Street as a model for a key component of life in New York City: the concept of progress.

Bond Street was created in 1805 as the City Council began developing north of Houston Street. Although lacking in length, Bond was designed slightly wider than the surrounding streets. [12]

By 1830, Bond was the center of New York City fashion, as per its wealthy residents. The architecture on Bond drew the attention of the 1833 guidebook ‘New York as It Is,’ which claimed the mansions on Bond ‘may vie, for beauty and taste, with European palaces.‘ [12]

In the 1850s, the fanfare surrounding Bond began to change. The 1851 street directory depicted businesses (particularly dentists) and lodging houses where the wealthy once lived. Then, in 1857, dentist and landlord Harvey Burdell was found brutally murdered in his office in 31 Bond. Still unsolved, the case garnered much political attention, and is viewed to this day as a key case in the development of our modern legal system. [12]

In the 1880s, Bond was still on the decline. Manufacturing tenants flocked to the wide street, which provided ample light for their craft. However, by 1896, developers began instituting a Greek Revival theme as a subtle tribute to the street’s original glory. [12]

Although the last of the original mansions fell in 1930, Bond has been on a steady rise. Highlights for Bond include the 1970s art movement and the 1990s emphasis on preservation. But Bond has yet to hit its peak. The location, preservation, and industrialization of Bond make the street a highlight for developers, residents, and creative souls. [12]

A theater student I met outside claims this sign dates back to 1968

Gene Frankel Theater at 24 Bond Street

Dancing statues by Bruce Williams

The Gene Frankel Theater, located at 24 Bond Street, was constructed in 1893. Originally on the property of famed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, the theater has occupied the street floor since 1986 and was taken over by Gene Frankel in 1949. [8]

Designed by Buchman & Deisler in Renaissance Revival style, 24 Bond is truly unique due to its dozen dancing statues, sculpted by Bruce Williams and added to the exterior in 1998. The dusted gold dancers are whimsically arranged, and no two are the same. [8]

In 2008, 24 Bond was included in the NOHO Historic District via the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Thus, the sculptures suddenly became an illegal fixture on a protected landmark. [16]

In 2009, at the Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing, the owner of 24 Bond, along with the sculptor and other local artists, protested the removal of the statues. The LPC ruled in favor of the art. In a celebratory fashion, Williams added additional dancers gliding up the building a year later. The theater continues to serve as a venue for ‘Off-Off Broadway’ performances. [3]

Frankel, while a highly awarded talent himself, was always passionate about art at the community and street level. He is credited as a major constituent of Off Broadway theater. He directed plays like Enemy of the People, Brecht on Brecht, Gun Play and Genet’s The Blacks, which introduced James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Maya Angelou, Roscoe Lee Browne and Lou Gossett, Jr., now cultivated names in American theatre and film. [17]

In addition to his passion for directing, Frankel was also an avid teacher, spending time as a visiting professor at New York University. “Directing is in my blood and teaching is in my bones,” Frankel has said, in response to questions of retirement. Frankel is known for putting the theater above the concept of self, and died in 2005 a dedicated artist. [16]

This French man grunted at me as I took his picture. Whoops!

This French couple window shopped along Bond, and left the street with a purchase from Dashwood Books

Man stumbling while drinking alcohol out of a paper bag!

Looking west along Bond to the intersection with Broadway

Bond No. 9 pushes the 'Scent of Peace' this holiday

The pattern on the sidewalk

Setting up for a photoshoot outside 45 Bond Street

A fur hat photoshoot, which also utilized the interior of Mercat at 45 Bond Street

‘Spatial practices in fact secretly structure the determining conditions of social life,” writes Michel de Certeau in The Practice of Everyday Life. Certeau, in so many words, sums up his entire thesis here: city planning has its limits, and, at a particular point, everyday life takes over. [5]

For example, the television was introduced with purely informational intent. We all know how that turned out.

A space isn’t defined by elements of urban planning alone (location, structure, materials, etc.) but also an inexplicable (and often mystifying) ‘feeling’ that one gets from walking through the space itself.

Walking on Bond Street is extraordinary. Starting west on Broadway and walking east, the sudden emergence of cobblestone and quiet is a dramatic change from the sense of urgency felt on New York’s most famous avenue. As mentioned before in previous entries, contradictory structures and businesses jump out like bright colors on a dull page. But Bond is so much more.

Download Audio Here

Bond feels like an escape. It’s diverse and covert, which make it extremely different from its days as dentist row. And that is a beautiful evolution.

There is something unusual, almost untouchable about this New York Daily Times 1857 headline. Plenty of articles cover the trial and investigation of Dr. Harvey Burdell’s gruesome murder on the notoriously quiet Bond street. Few articles manage to turn this terrible event into a gripping, passionate story even the faint of heart cannot wait to read. [4]

The coroner notes suggest that the brutality of Burdell’s stabbing and strangulation alludes he knew his attacker intimately. “Deep, long-meditated revenge” perhaps. Naturally, all attention was turned to the beautiful, seductive tenant Emma Cunningham, who was recently widowed and renting a room in Burdell’s mansion. [4]

And, who happened to be left-handed. Which matched the pattern of the fifteen stab wounds on Burdell’s body. [4]

Burdell, however, was no saint himself. Although his estate was worth a reported $100,000 (which converts to roughly $800,000 today), he was infamous among his wealthy neighbors for his outrageous greed and embezzlement scams. [4]

The body was discovered on January 31st, and Cunningham was immediately put under house arrest after producing a phony marriage certificate naming Burndell as her husband. Two weeks later, the trial was turned over to the Grand Jury and Cunningham was taken into custody. Yet the trial did not begin until early May, and this article was printed on February 7th. [4]

I chose this article for a few reasons. First and foremost, I liked this article because I despise factual history, which complements my penchant for dramatic literature. This article reads like something between a Law & Order episode and a romance novel with Fabio on the cover.

The murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell is very fascinating, and definitely an important event in the development of the American legal system. But the way this story is written says more about the social practices of the time. This article is not just news, it was entertainment for a group of people looking for something…more. And I love the idea of journalism as a three dimensional figure, that meshes together news and art and culture into something brilliant. This piece, a true time capsule, imitates those concepts.

The Robbins and Appleton Building, 1-5 Bond Street

The Robbins and Appleton Building, 1-5 Bond Street

The Robbins and Appleton Building, 1-5 Bond Street

The Harmon Hendricks Goldstone Papers is a collection of more than 170 Landmarks Designation Reports from Harmon Hendricks Goldstone during his time as Chairman of New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Documents, clippings, and memorabilia form 27 volumes that depict changes in New York City. [11]

The Robbins and Appleton Building, 1-5 Bond Street, is included in box 4 folder 3. It was built in 1879-1880, designated a landmark in 1979, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. [11]

The building was designed by architect Stephen Decatur Hatch, and built with an iron foundation to protect the structure from potential fire damage. The building was originally used by the publisher D. Appleton & Company, and for the manufacture of watchcases for the American Waltham Watch Company founded by Daniel F. Appleton and Henry A. Rabbins. Today, the building houses Blick Art Supplies on the first and lower floor. The rest of the building is residential. [11]

“To either side of the central section are square-headed windows with flanking columns that carry tine ends of a pediment. No. 1-5 Bond Street is a handsome commercial palazzo in the French Second Empire mode and is a fine representative of that type of 19th-century structure. It is an excellent example of cast-iron architecture and a commanding presence in the streetscape-a strong reminder of the city’s rich architectural heritage.”  [11]

5 Bond also housed Albert Gallatin, the treasury secretary for Jefferson and Madison and the founder of NYU.

Today, the building is a popular hangout for local art students, who can always be found smoking outside the store. It is the largest, most popular retail store on the street.

31 Bond Steet, a novel by Ellen Horan

“Inside, Dr. Burdell was sprawled in the center of the floor, his arms outstretched, and his head in a sticky puddle that had hardened like tar. His lips were pendant and blue. His throat was slashed with a wound so deep that it nearly detached the head from the torso, revealing a sinewy tangle of muscle and tiny pearls of spine. The doctor’s eyes stared up at John, glazed, sunken into the temples. His tongue was protruding, swollen, as if choked on a last, silent scream.” [14]

31 Bond Street, a work of historical fiction by Ellen Horan, discusses the social circles on Bond Street at the time of Harvey Burdell’s murder. Horan takes five historical names from the crime, and gives those characters all elaborate, interwoven back stories in order to make sense of the 1857 crime.

Screen capture of "The First Wives Club"

 The First Wives Club, based on the 1992 fiction novel by Olivia Goldsmith (an NYU alum!), is a Paramount Pictures film released in 1996. It stars Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler as old college friends who form a group to take down their ex-husbands: all who are wealthy, prominent men who left their wives for their young mistresses.

The film was a commercial success, grossing six times its budget during it’s theater run. It also produced a successful soundtrack and semi-successful musical-stage version of the film. [9]

The building pictured above, labeled The Cynthia Swann Griffin Crisis Center for Women, is The Robbins and Appleton Building located on 1-5 Bond Street. Most of the architectural details of the building are concealed, which makes me wonder why the building was chosen in the first place. The building is cropped at the first story, which makes the structure appear more upscale. It almost looks as is if could be on Madison or Park Avenue.

This scene, while not the most famous from the film, is the heartwarming resolution of the womens’ journey of self discovery. Bond Street is portrayed as a safe haven in a town where women feel an enormous amount of pressure to look and act a certain way. No matter what your age, the idea of being ‘replaced’ is prevalent in the minds of New York City women. It is hard to feel like you’ve made an impact in a city so large and so filled with talented, important people.

47 Bond Street

26 Bond Street

6 Bond Street

Interior of United Nude Shoes

    

I would like to lay all my cards on the table – I am a country girl raised on a small southern island just south of Savannah, Georgia. My hometown falls underneath the Bible Belt and the Mason-Dixon line. I grew up riding bicycles into ‘town.’ A ‘town’ where, at 6:00 sharp, all businesses closed for the day as the townspeople migrated to their neighborhood church. Followed by dinner at the family table.

So, as you can imagine, New York at night is rather overwhelming for me. I am simultaneously fearful and fascinated. Exploring Bond Street, an expensive NoHo block, at night was very intriguing.

Most retail streets on Bond close relatively early. United Nude, a shoe store pictured above, closes at 6:00 on Sunday, 7:00 on Saturday, and 8:00 the rest of the week. Blick Art Supplies has the same hours. The only service shop, a hair and makeup salon, closes at 7:00 on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, 9:00 on Tuesday and Thursday, and is closed Sunday.

United Nude has a unique light display that continues on into the night, but the real showstopper on the street is 40 Bond. Lighting up a large portion of the street, the meticulously sculpted exterior casts a glow on the street. There are few streetlights on Bond, but it is nowhere near dark.

Bond is home to many restaurants, which I didn’t know because most open only at night and have strange names that aren’t related to food. There’s BondST, The Smile, Mercat, Il Buco, and Hung Ry.  The hours for each of these restaurants are roughly 6:00PM – 11:30PM. Only one is open for lunch.

After completing this research, I figured it would be best to visit Bond on a few different days of the week. I walk near the street every night when I finish class at 7:30, so I just took a detour last week.

Sunday was dark and empty. I suppose the residents were preparing for the following workday, because the apartments were all lit up. Tuesday was nothing special. People were in restaurants, but there weren’t any velvet ropes or crowds walking down the street. All patrons appeared to be well-off New Yorkers who didn’t feel like cooking, but didn’t feel like getting dressed for a night out, either.Wednesday was the same as Tuesday. Thursday was rather empty. I know that Thursday is a big going-out night in New York, but this was not reflected on Bond.Saturday looked like date night, but other than personal cars, no one was on the street.

Exterior of Bond Studios / taken fall 2011

Interior of Bond Studios / taken fall 2011

Originally pitched under the title, A Legal Mind, the USA television network’s hit original series Suits was filmed in a studio on Bond Street on October 12, 2010. Suits tells the story of a prominent, rough and tumble New York City lawyer and his unusual partnership with a kindhearted young lawyer with an eidetic memory. [7]

Filming took place at 8 Bond Studio, which is described on it’s website as “a creative collective bridging the fashion, art, and music worlds.” The space has been utilized as a chic party location, sound stage, and photo shoot location. [1]

8 Bond Studio is a relatively new space, encompassing both floors. It opened in June or 2010, after being purchased for a reported $6.75 million. The 13,000 square foot space has been popular since it’s opening, drawing particular interest due to the claims that Andy Warhol once worked out of 8 Bond. The portrayal of New York through the characters in Suits focuses on a widely discussed theme – second chances. The brilliant college-dropout finds a mentor in the city, and undergoes a complete makeover (drawing on the title, the character originally had poor taste in men’s suits, until his mentor comes to his fashionable rescue). [2]

The space on Bond has a similar story to tell. Once the dumpy duplex next to the parking garage on Lafayette, this run-down space that one commenter even called ‘hopeless’ has become an ultra-hip hangout for some of New York City’s most elite parties and jobs.

Parking garage where Andreas has worked for 4 years on the northwest corner of Bond Street and Lafayette Street

“The practice of lecturing and listening on the streets was a means of bringing into public discourse topics and opinions that had little currency in the wider public sphere,” wrote Clare Corbould in her discussions of sound and identity. [6]

Soapbox speaking has a long history as a means of communication – particularly for those whose voices are not heard. In the 1930s, the Universal Negro Improvement Association held soapbox rallies on a nightly basis, conjuring up images of a better world, without racism and prejudice.  [6]

Although he wasn’t standing on a soapbox, Andreas had a lot to say about his life in America. Born in Columbia, Andreas moved to New York City in 2008 at the ripe age of 22 to create a better life for his wife and daughter. It wasn’t a journey made alone: Andreas had an uncle who owned a parking garage on Bond Street, property owned by his family for nearly a century.

“You know, the street…over there, the lights? My grandfather, his dad used to light them every morning and put them out at night,” Andreas boasts about his Bond Street connections.

What started out as a conversation about daily life on Bond, where Andreas has been a parking attendant at the 24 hour garage for 4 years, quickly turned into a tale of true appreciation for life in New York City through the eyes of a determined young man.

I did not catch it all on tape, but the passion and admiration in Andreas’s voice rings loud and clear. Over the course of a half hour, Andreas talked about Bond, celebrity clientele, which restaurants were the best, and eventually, the joy New York City has brought to his life.

Download Audio Here (Part 1)

Download Audio Here (Part 2)

Bond Street, in blue, via Family Watchdog and Google Maps

In a half mile radius, there are 51 registered sex offenders. Within two blocks, there are 30 offenders. In all of Manhattan, there are roughly 1600 mapped offenders, the majority of which are located above Central Park. Roughly 1.8% of sex offenders in Manhattan live around Bond Street. Downtown Manhattan is one of the safest areas in the city.

The sex offender registry locates where offenders live and work, and then specifies their crime. As you can see on the map, there are no registered offenders living on Bond Street (most likely due to the cost of living). Many of those living around Bond are at the same location (many squares represent 3 or more offenders), relative to rent costs and job availability.

Family Watchdog portrays Bond as an incredibly safe street, which is consistent with my research and personal findings. Ann Galloway’s article, “Intimations of Everyday Life: Ubiquitous Computing and the City” opens with: ‘Ubiquitous computing seeks to embed computers into our everyday lives in such ways as to render them invisible and allow them to be taken for granted, while social and cultural theories of everyday life have always been interested in rendering the invisible visible and exposing the mundane’ (385). But I feel that what is exposed is very important – many misconceptions of the city are related to crime. Most people feel you are either in constant danger or invincible, neither of which are true. But with this website, tracking makes you aware: ‘Of concern here are the implications of context-aware computing for privacy in everyday life. Such comprehensive monitoring or surveillance is not contained by either space or time, as these technologies may cross both physical and social boundaries‘ (389). But what level of privacy is appropriate for a convict? [10]

The law requires sex offenders to register with the state, but the fact that anyone can find both their home and work adress along with their photo at the simple click of a button…seems debatable. Are they ever harassed by new mothers? What if they were wrongfully convicted? Exposing the underbelly of a neighborhood is intriguing, but where do privacy rights end and public knowledge begin?

Family Watchdog provides a realistic portrayal of crime in New York, exposing a layer of the street that exists based entirely on public records.

'Sabe Faust' translates to 'Know Faust' in Spanish

  1. “8 Bond Studio | LinkedIn.” World’s Largest Professional Network | LinkedIn. LinkedIn Corporation, June 2010. Web. 06 Nov. 2011. <http://www.linkedin.com/pub/8-bond-studio/23/339/2b0&gt;.
  2. Arak, Joey. “Build Your Own Bond Street Empire!” Curbed NY: The New York City Neighborhoods and Real Estate Blog. 18 Feb. 2010. Web.
  3. Arak, Joey. “Preservation Watch: Blow-By-Blow From Landmarks’ Big Day” Curbed NY: The New York City Neighborhoods and Real Estate Blog. 22 Sept. 2009. Web.
  4. “The Bond Street Murder: Still A Mystery” The New York Daily Times. 07 Feb. 1857. Print.
  5. Certeau, Michel De, and Steven Rendall. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California, 2007. Print.
  6. Corbould, Clare “Streets , Sounds and Identity in Interwar Harlem.” Journal of Social History – Volume 40, Number 4, Summer 2007, pp. 859-894.
  7. David. “New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, And Other Filming Locations For Oct 12 Including “Law and Order: SVU” And “Blue Bloods”” Before the Trailer. 11 Oct. 2010. Web. 06 Nov. 2011. <http://www.beforethetrailer.com/&gt;.
  8. Davies, Pete. “Bond Street’s Golden Dancers Doomed by Charlatans?” Curbed NY: The New York City Neighborhoods and Real Estate Blog. 7 Aug. 2009. Web.
  9. “The First Wives Club (1996) – IMDb.” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 25 Oct. 2011. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116313/&gt;.
  10. Galloway, Anne. “Intimations of Everyday Life: Ubiquitous computing and the City.” Cultural Studies Vol. 18, No. 2/3. March/May 2004, pp 384-408.
  11. Goldstone, Harmon H.  The Harmon Hendricks Goldstone Papers. New York: The New-York Historical Society, 2003. Print.
  12. Gray, Christopher. “Bond Street From Lafayette Street to the Bowery; A Block That Offers the Quintessence of NoHo.” The New York Times. 17 Jan. 1999. Print.
  13. Hope, Bradley. “Echoes of Village Bohemia: Carver, Developer Come Together After 22 Years.” The New York Sun. 29 Nov. 2007. Web.
  14. Horan, Ellen. 31 BOND STREET: a Novel. New York: Harper, 2010. Print.
  15. Miller, Kiri.”Grove Street Grimm: Grand Theft Auto and Digital Folklore.” Journal of the American Folklore, 121 (481): 255-285. 2008.
  16. Percival, Marianne S. NOHO Historic District Extension Designation Report. Rep. Ed. Jay Shockley and Virginia Kurshan. Comp. Mary Beth Betts. New York, NY: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 2008. Print.
  17. “Suits (TV Series 2011).” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 06 Nov. 2011. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1632701/&gt;.
  18. http://www.genefrankeltheatre.com/
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