Downtown preservationists fought to keep an 1824 row house at 186 Spring Street that served as a commune for gay-rights activists like James Owles and Arnie Kantrowitz soon after the Stonewall riots broke out. They lost the fight; the house was demolished last year to make way for loft-style condos.
Long before their brethren made it to TLC, Homer and Langley Collyer lived at 2078 Fifth Avenue amid 140 tons of books, clothes, and various detritus in this townhouse. In 1947, the Collyer brothers were both found dead, buried among their things. The house was torn down, and it’s a park now.
Notorious Murder Site
A firehouse stands here now, but back in 1909, 782 Eighth Avenue was witness to a crime that became one of the city’s most notorious cold cases: the Chinatown Trunk Murder. Elsie Sigel, granddaughter of Civil War hero Franz Sigel, was found bound and stuffed in a trunk here in the room of her paramour, a Chinese man named Leon Ling—who disappeared and was never heard from.
Underground Railroad Route
28 John Street and 144 West Broadway—one’s a condo, the other’s a park—were once part of the Underground Railroad trail, according to Fern Luskin, professor at La Guardia Community College.
Edgar Allan Poe’s House
The little redhouse at 85 West 3rd Street that belonged to Edgar Allan Poe in the mid-1800s, and was where he worked on “The Raven,” is now an NYU building (though the façade remains). His house on West 84th Street and Broadway has long disappeared, too. His Bronx cottage is still standing, though; it’s now a museum.
Jackson Pollock’s Walk-Up
The artist moved into a fifth-floor walk-up at 46 East 8th Street in April 1933 with his brother, Charles, and his wife; they paid $35 a month. In 1942, his girlfriend, Lee Krasner, joined him, and they stayed until 1945. A redbrick apartment building took the tenement’s place in 1952.
The storied bar has been bopping around the city since opening on Cedar Street in 1866. But its most famous incarnation—at 24 University Place, where it stood from 1945 to 1963—lured artists like Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell with fifteen-cent beers. It moved up the block in 1963 and, two years later, a co-op took over its old location.
An eclectic who’s-who lived at 391 Bowery back in the day: Beat poetess Diane di Prima; Peter Stuyvesant’s great-grandson, Nicholas William Stuyvesant; actor Joel Grey; and Claude Brown, who wrote Manchild in the Promised Land. Dorms replaced it.