Our Minding the Store project manager, Chris Neville, has been researching the businesses that operated out of 97 Orchard Street from 1863 to 1988. As such, he's become mildly obsessed with the streetscapes of the Lower East Side. He thinks a lot about facades and buildings and how businesses incorporated themselves into tenements. He looks all the time for evidence of how stores in the earlier part of the 20th century, and even into the 19th century, might have set up their spaces. We don't have a lot of documentary evidence about the businesses in 97 or the building's facade, so we look around the neighborhood for similar tenements, checking for the layers of physical fabric that so often exist in older neighborhoods.
His eyes attuned to notice architectural details, Chris right away noticed some markings on the brick walls of the tenements next door to the two that were demolished recently, after the deadly fire on Grand Street. He did some research and discovered what existed on those lots before the tenements were constructed in the 1890s.
Head over to Bowery Boogie to read his post.