Wednesday, April 14, 2010

See you at the Confetti Dance?

Educator Allison Siegel continues her research into buildings on the Lower East Side. At the request of curious Tenement Museum staffers, she looked into 345 Grand Street, a cast iron building at the corner of Ludlow.

My first attempt at researching 345 Grand Street brought me to an interesting blog called Click to read more, but in a nutshell, over the years the building was a dance hall and a piano showroom.

I was immediately obsessed with finding out more! Could this building have been all that was claimed?

I was able to confirm H.W. Perlman’s Piano outlet was there, but was unsuccessful locating when. After hours of research, I caved and contacted the author of the blog, David Grossman, who put me in touch with one of the previous owner of the building. Here’s what he had to say:

Hello Allison,

David's article tells you most of what I know about the building. The exterior photo from around 1900 was retrieved from NY City archives by another owner, David Rakovsky on the 4th floor. When I was negotiating to buy the building in 1999, a man named Jimmy, who had been employed as a super by the owners Alan and Alice Friedman for many years, told me there used to be a dance parlor in the place, and with nods and winks he suggested that where there was dancing, there was probably a brothel too. I have no idea if that's true as a generalization, let alone true for 345 Grand.

In any event, the dance ticket we discovered under the floorboards confirms that the 2nd floor was a dance hall, and the stairway that used to connect the 1st and 2nd floors suggests that it might have occupied both floors -- perhaps a lounge or smoking room downstairs? We Googled the performers, Little Willie and Big Sam Kaplan, and contacted a few Kaplans with a LES background but learned nothing more. We surmise that a confetti dance had the band playing a medley -- a polka, a waltz, etc -- and there's an 1889 short film cited on Google called The Confetti Dance, but no information about it.

That's about all I know, except for a few half-credible stories about Lou Reid and Blondie having (at different times) lived next door or behind us, on Ludlow.


Phillip Frazer

(I am working on continuing Mr. Frazer’s research of Little Willie and Big Sam Kaplan and The Confetti Dance- stay tuned for what I find!)

While Mr. Frazer couldn't specify years, he did provide me with a ton of additional info to research, and so I did…

Not only was there a dancehall at 345 Grand, but when the building opened between Dec. 2 and Dec. 8, 1888, it did so as a “combination museum, theatre, menagerie and aquarium” in 1888.

“THE GRAND STREET MUSEUM A VERY humble east side place of amusement was THE GRAND STREET MUSEUM situated at Nos 345 and 347 Grand Street It was opened Dec 8 1888 and besides the living and other curiosities to be seen there dramatic performances were given and all could be enjoyed for ten cents.”
A history of the New York stage from the first performance in 1732 ..., Volume 2
By Thomas Allston Brown
Page 591
Yet another intriguing piece of New York City’s history, and folks, if you fancy yourself a new condo (FYI: according to the NY City Register, the building converted to the Grand Digs Condominium on April 8, 2003) -- some of the units are up for grabs.

‘til next time.
-A. B. Siegel

Thanks to for the images.


  1. nice building, I went to a party there once. I was sure it had a very interesting history. It's completely modernized inside, you can't really tell it was an old historic museum.

  2. Very interesting article. I look forward to reading more.

    Kim S.

  3. Interesting! I'm curious as to how I might be able to learn more about the NYC buildings & addresses where my ancestors lived. It would be great to find photos of the buildings or at least the neighborhoods from that era (roughly 1900-20). Any suggestions?

  4. Hi Ellen,
    Here's a great article to help you get started:

    We also love the NY Times archive because it's online and because most addresses pull up a name, a business, or something else that's useful for future searching.

    Good luck!

  5. Many THANKS to EVERYONE for the input of such exciting information of the History and Pictures that are here, before me. "WHAT A RUSH"..Respectfully..


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