Before & After: 47 Prince Street

Berenice Abbott, one of New York’s most celebrated street photographers, snapped a picture of two tired old federal-style rowhouses at the northwest corner of Prince Street and Mulberry Street, across from Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in 1935. Two years later, the houses were cleared from the lot and it sat vacant as its neighborhood slipped into the dark days of New York in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Some time before 1990, the lot was snapped up by bargain-hunting landlord Bill Gottlieb, who spent much of the 80s and 90s purchasing cheap lots and buildings around the West Village and the Cast Iron District (today’s “SoHo”) as investment properties. He passed away in 1999 and is now infamous among residents of these Lower Manhattan neighborhoods for letting his properties slowly die of neglect. He demanded low rent of his tenants in exchange for their putting up with his negligence as a superintendent. and that practice has been perpetuated by his descedants. They won’t build. They won’t sell. And so, despite various rumors flying around (a Shake Shack was supposed to build on the lot in 2010), 47 Prince Street sits empty. A relic of the city’s rough-edged past.

Mulberry and Prince 1935 2011

Click to enlarge.
The NW corner of Prince & Mulbery in 1935 (L) taken by Berenice Abbott (NYPL Digital Gallery) and again in 2011 (R) taken from Google Maps.

About keithyorkcity

Name: Keith Age: 20-something Location: New York Passion: History You'll find a million blogs like mine, but mine is better.
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