A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 15, 2015
Kerosene Row

"Kerosene Row” was an area of Mulberry Bend that was prone to fires. It was destroyed in the 1890s to create Mulberry Bend Park, now known as Columbus Park.

“Kerosene Row” was first cited in print in the 1890s.


Wikipedia: Mulberry Bend
Mulberry Bend was an area in the notorious Five Points neighborhood in lower Manhattan, New York City. It is located in what is now Chinatown, Manhattan, on Mulberry Street.

Boundaries
It was bounded by Bayard Street in the north, Cross Street (changed to Park in 1854) in the south, Orange (changed to Baxter in 1854) Street on the west and Mulberry Street on the east. The “Bend” in the street layout was due to the original topography of the area. Orange and Mulberry Streets headed from southeast to northwest then turned north at the “Bend” to avoid the Collect Pond and surrounding low-lying wetland. The present-day Columbus Park occupies The Bend.

Description
Mulberry Bend was one of the worst parts in the Five Points, with multiple back alleyways such as Bandit’s Roost, Bottle Alley and Ragpickers Row. In 1897, due in part to the efforts of Danish photojournalist Jacob Riis, Mulberry Bend was demolished and turned into Mulberry Bend Park. The urban green space was designed by Calvert Vaux. In 1911 it was renamed Columbus Park.

Chronicling America
5 August 1897, The Sun (New York, NY), pg. 7, col. 5:
EAST SIDE LANDMARKS SOLD.
Tweed’s Former Headquarters, Thieves’ Alley and Kerosene Row to Go.
The auction sale of houses on the east side, where the new parks are to be, was closed yesterday afternoon after a very hard day’s work. Yesterday’s sale was of the buildings in the district bounded by East Broadway and Hester, Essex, Canal, Jefferson, Division, Suffolk, and Norfolk streets.
(...)
Kerosene Row, the scene of many suspicious fires, went with the rest of the buildings near Rutgers square.

Olf Fulton NY Post Cards
7 August 1897, The Evening Post (New York, NY), “Passing of Landmarks: Demolition to Prepare for a New Park,” pg. 15, col. 1:
“Jimmy” was able to locate “Kerosene row,” a block where small fires have occurred with great frequency. The fire-box for this block, No 153, is known as the “Kerosene box,” and when an alarm is turned in from this box those who know exclaim, “There goes the kerosene box.”

Google Books
May 1899, The Atlantic Monthly, “The Battle with the Slum” by Jacob A. Riis, pg. 631:
We bought the slum off in the Mulberry Bend at its own figure. On the rear tenements we set the price, and it was low. It was a long step. Bottle Alley is gone, and Bandits’ Roost. Bone Alley, Thieves’ Alley, and Kerosene Row, — they are all gone. Hell’s Kitchen and Poverty Gap have acquired standards of decency; Poverty Gap has risen even to the height of neckties.

Google Books
The Battle with the Slum
By Jacob A. Riis
New York, NY: The Macmillan Company
1902
Pg. 285:
To return to the East Side where the light was let in. Bone Alley brought thirty-seven dollars under the auctioneer’s hammer. Thieves’ Alley, in the other park down at Rutgers Square, where hte police clubbed the Jewish cloakmakers a few years ago for the offence of gathering to assert their right to “being men, live the life of men,” as some one who knew summed up the labor movement, brought only seven dollars, and the old Helvetia House, where Boss Tweed and gang met at night to plan their plundering raids on the city’s treasury, was knocked down for five. Kerosene Row, on the same block, did not bring enough to have bought kindling wood with which to start one of the (Pg. 286—ed.) numerous fires that gave it its bad name. It was in Thieves’ Alley that the owner in the days long gone by hung out the sing, “No Jews need apply.” I stood and watched the opening of the first municipal playground upon the site of the old alley, and in the thousands that thronged street and tenements from curb to roof with thunder of applause, there were not twoscore who could have found lodging with the old Jew-baiter. He had to go with his alley, before the better day could bring light and hope to the Tenth Ward.

Google Books
A King in Rags
By Cleveland Moffett
New York, NY: D. Appleton and Company
1907
Pg. 150:
“And there were slaughter-houses everywhere; and fat-boilers; and such vile tenements that— They’re all gone now, “Bone Alley,’ and ‘Kerosene Row,’ and the ‘Big Flat,’ in Mott Street, and ‘Bandits’ Roost,’ but I tell you it was worth a man’s life to go past them at night. Now you can go anywhere.”

Google Books
Eyes of a Gypsy
By John Murray Gibbon
Toronto, ON: Methuen
1926
Pg. 89:
It was idle to argue with him that conditions were not so bad as they used to be, that now there was less crime — that Kerosene Row, Mulberry Bend, Cat Alley, Mott Street Barracks, Murderers’ Alley, the Bandit’s Roost and a dozen other dens of vice have been wiped out—that the Big Flat and the Jersey Street Rookeries were now converted into factories — that Suicide Hall and the Bucket of Blood were only memories.

Google Books
Men Along the Shore
By Maud Russell
New York, NY: Brussel & Brussel
1966
Pg. 97:
The colorful, if unflattering, names of slum streets — Bottle Alley, Bone Alley, Bandits’ Roost, Thieves’ Alley, Kerosene Row — were being given more sedate and probably less accurate titles.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • Sunday, November 15, 2015 • Permalink