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Duo Multicultural Arts Center 1 Dance Dance Studios Historic Site Performing Arts Theaters East Village

62 East 4th Street has had a fascinating history. At its inception in 1889, it served as a social hall housing a musician's union known as Astoria Hall, as well as hosting meetings of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. In the 1930's, the ballroom was revamped as a theater and television studio and renamed Fortune Theater until Andy Warhol discovered it and left his legendary stamp here. In 1969, he rented it out to showcase a series of infamous porn films and called it Andy Warhol's Theater: Boys to Adore Galore. Over the years, the Yiddish theater had performances here, and many well known television shows used the space to film. Since 1987, the Duo Center has been here having raised the funds for renovations, and then remaining throughout construction to become home to what is now Duo Multicultural Arts Center and Rod Rogers Dance Company and Studio. Today the building is part of Fourth Arts Block (FAB) and operates as a center for film, dance, art, theater and music and is among New York's designated cultural districts.

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Duo Multicultural Arts Center 1 Dance Dance Studios Historic Site Performing Arts Theaters East Village
Duo Multicultural Arts Center 2 Dance Dance Studios Historic Site Performing Arts Theaters East Village
Duo Multicultural Arts Center 3 Dance Dance Studios Historic Site Performing Arts Theaters East Village
Duo Multicultural Arts Center 4 Dance Dance Studios Historic Site Performing Arts Theaters East Village
Duo Multicultural Arts Center 5 Dance Dance Studios Historic Site Performing Arts Theaters East Village

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FDNY Great Jones Engine Company 33 Ladder 9 1 Fire Stations Historic Site undefined

FDNY Great Jones Engine Company 33 Ladder 9

While strolling along Great Jones Street one day during the summer of 2016, I noticed the fire trucks pulling up to their house, getting ready to enter. I immediately quickened my pace and stood there, gazing inside. One of the firemen approached me and began chatting about the architecture and the history of Engine Company 33 and Ladder Company 9. I learned from this kind man, who has been with the department since 1983, that the building was designed by renowned architect Ernest Flagg. Pointing to the top of the firehouse, the fireman insisted that I go to my computer and have a look at old photos of the Beaux Arts Singer Building that once stood in lower Manhattan and compare the three-story arch and windows to his firehouse. He assured me that I would see the similarities, for Flagg chose to reuse these concepts when designing his skyscraper. For a short period in 1908, it was considered to be the tallest structure in the world. Sadly, it was knocked down in 1968. In 1899, the firehouse was originally conceived as a place where the chief of the department could work on a daily basis. Their main headquarters were uptown on 67th Street, but my friendly fireman proudly shared that this was where the highest uniformed person and his staff were housed. At the time, firemen were continuously on duty - "they only had an hour or two off a day until 1917 or 1918 and then it got a little bit better for them. " Thus, it was in this same building that the men ate their meals and slept whenever they could. I have not met a fireman while walking on the side streets who has not mentioned those who perished on September 11. Tragically, this firehouse lost ten of their fourteen heroic firefighters when the World Trade Center collapsed. At the conclusion of our conversation, this wonderful man told me that he would be "put out to pasture" in less than two years, as there is mandatory retirement at the young age of sixty-five in the fire department. There is no doubt that he will leave having had a full and meaningful career with his peers and that New York City is a better place because of him.

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Merchant's House Museum 1 Museums Historic Site undefined

Merchant's House Museum

Surrounded by high-rise condos, with another on the way, and graffiti tagged buildings, this landmark relic of the past made it to the top of my sidekick Brandhi's must-do lists just in time for her birthday. She knew that a large and very wealthy New York family and their four Irish servants once inhabited the house in the 1800's, and managed to keep it intact over the years, but she was fascinated by the idea that the ghost of Gertrude, the family's youngest daughter who was born and died in the house at the age of 93, might still reside there too. So she eagerly paid the $10 admission, chose the self-guided tour, and wholeheartedly entered the time capsule. For Brandhi, ascending the magnificent wood carved staircases and exploring the great rooms of this 19th century home decked with the Tredwell family's personal possessions was like stepping back into a time when this part of the city was alive with the comings and goings of millionaires and upholding the highest social conventions were the norm. She found a little something that almost every kind of aficionado would appreciate in this historic home. She learned all about the Victorian etiquette of "calling, " admired the white day dresses that still look pristine, and imagined what it must have been like for a servant to lug a bucket full of coal up four long flights of stairs several times a day. If you think history, architecture, interior design, cultural anthropology or the paranormal is fascinating, then a visit to this museum should make it to the top of your must-do list too. Guided tours start everyday at 2: 00. However, if you are like Brandhi and prefer to explore in private, arrive early and you will likely have the entire museum to yourself. The peaceful backyard garden, though surrounded by cookie-cutter condominiums, is the perfect place to reflect on what it must have been like to live in the Manhattan of two centuries ago. Happy Birthday, Brandhi.

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Pageant Print Shop 1 Bookstores Family Owned undefined

Pageant Print Shop

Pageant Print Shop’s entirely glass storefront bordered by light blue is instantly eye-catching and proudly displays the treasure within. Inside its bright, buttercream interior, an immense assortment of old prints and maps line every wall and fill neatly-labeled display racks. This sanctuary of beautiful historical pieces was created by Sidney Solomon and Henry Chafetz in 1946. It was originally one of the many second-hand book stores on Fourth Avenue, an area that was then known as “Book Row. ” Now under the leadership of Sidney’s daughters, Shirley and Rebecca, Pageant Print Shop primarily sells old prints and is thriving at its current 4th Street location. Having worked with historic pieces her whole life, Shirley knows how to get the best prints. She has amassed her impressive collection from antique book auctions as well as other various sources that she has built up over the years. Roger, who has been working at Pageant Print Shop for over a decade, told Manhattan Sideways that “what we are looking for are old books with the bindings broken that are really not in very good shape on the outside, but still have good quality prints, maps, or illustrations on the inside. ” Although they search for old books based on the contents within, the shop also sells the old bindings for creatives looking to make decoupage and other fun art projects. Pageant Print Shop is definitely a fixture in the East Village, and in the words of Roger, is “one of those neighborhood jams. ” They enjoy “a loyal group of people that have been coming here for eons, " tourists looking for something authentically New York City, and neighborhood people walking by. He told us that newcomers are often “surprised that they are able to buy a piece of history, ” and return for more of their authentic, beautiful, and historic prints. Pageant Print Shop is unique in its extensive, high quality, and affordable selection. Roger affirmed that “It’s going to be hard for you to find someone who has this kind of a collection at these kinds of prices — it’s just true. ”

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Howl! Happening

Howl! Happening

So what exactly is Howl! Happening? I asked Jane Fried and Ted Riederer, Howl! ’s Executive Director and Artistic Director, respectively. After a few seconds of pondering, Jane responded, “A very eclectic, very fluid art gallery. ” “Maybe a performance space, ” suggested Ted. Jane shook her head definitively. “No, I think of it as an art gallery. But it has its own form of expression. ”While Jane, Ted, and their colleagues at Howl! Happening are certainly in the business of innovation (the exhibition that was up during my visit featured a guitar-sized music box and melodious contraption made of two bicycle wheels, among other things) there are many ways in which they also aim to preserve. Jane grew up in the West Village. As someone who was involved in all sorts of art, from theater to music and fine arts, she was a firsthand witness to the rise, from the ground up, of a unique, inclusive, artistic population across the island - the East Village. As a traditionally inexpensive and diverse neighborhood of Manhattan, East Village was known as a haven for innovative personalities. “Most of the artists down here had experimental, avant garde ideas, and many of those ideas were shunned or laughed at by communities outside of this one, ” Jane recounted. “But this place was very nurturing, and I think it gave a lot of people the chance to express themselves. They could hone their art, and others would understand their art and what they were trying to say. For fifty years, this was the place where anybody from anywhere came to nurture themselves - to feel accepted and special. ”In the past few years, however, Jane has seen rising rent prices, the artist’s eternal bane, impact the East Village in a devastating way. “If you weren’t well-moneyed, you would have to move somewhere, ” she said. “It was horrible. ” The East Village, much like any given Manhattan neighborhood, has become a jungle of high-rises and sleek boutiques, with its tight-knit artistic community shoved out to Brooklyn, New Jersey, and even farther. Most of the old galleries and performance spaces have also been bought out, meaning that it has become very difficult for artists to thrive. “There’s a huge lack of opportunities for people to perform shows and experiment, ” said Ted. “And that’s what really used to nurture the East Village - these clubs and performance spaces. ” Jane and Ted are pushing against this trajectory, doing their best to make sure the traditional East Village culture is not lost forever. Jane’s ultimate goal is to create an East Village art museum that features the artists who made their careers in a place where they can no longer afford to live. While she still has not found the perfect space for the museum itself, she founded Howl! Happening in 2015 as the first step in this project. The gallery exhibits artists who embody the East Village. “We are here to provide space for whoever is left, ” Jane proudly told me. “Not just physically left in this neighborhood, but left in its art world, to show their work and be remembered, not to lose their history, their importance, or their relevance. ”In fact, in keeping with their vision, to date, the gallery has never turned down a local artist interested in exhibiting their work, in any medium from painting to theatrical performance. In addition, the team at Howl! assist area artists in more “practical” ways, through affordable housing workshops and close work with The Actors’ Fund, which helps performing artists pay for everything from housing to health care. While preserving the past in such a fast-moving city may seem like a daunting task, it is clear that Howl! Happening has many passionate followers behind its cause. Every day, Howl! receives visits from patrons looking for a glimpse of history. “A lot of people come to see the old haunting grounds, ” Ted joked. “Yesterday we had a couple of older punk rockers from Denmark who were walking around the neighborhood to see where the Ramones used to live and CBGB, and they stumbled in here. ” With the old spaces long-gone, Howl! is here to scoop up their would-be patrons. As Ted put it, “It’s like we put out the call and people responded. ”And the patrons stay. In its short life, Howl! has already been adopted as a community space. “It’s a comfortable atmosphere, ” said Jane. “And we don’t charge to get in. By the end of the afternoon we might have a whole table full of neighborhood artists…it makes you want to get more and more involved. You don’t just walk past a piece of art and say ‘Oh, that’s really nice’ and keep going. You really want to know about the artist. You get excited if the artist happens to be here. There’s a pretense with the bigger commercial galleries that excludes this sort of community vibe. ”While Howl! Happening is doing its part to keep the eclectic East Village culture alive, the public, particularly the next generation, will have to play a role as well. Ted spoke fondly of a show on drag culture, where a young drag queen in the audience was so inspired that he got up on the stage and performed himself. The young artists of today will dictate the culture of tomorrow. “They might not be able to live in the East Village, ” Ted laughed, “but they can take the train in from Ridgewood and Bushwick. ”It’s a tough mission, but a noble one. Jane put her work succinctly: “You open the door, you put on the lights, and then you hope people come in. ”

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Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Co. 1 Dance Studios Dance undefined

Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Co.

Dance at Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company is a community as well as an art, according to Donna and Enrique who opened the studio on the same street where it was first founded forty-five years ago. They were displaced for a short time, explained Enrique, but now, they have found themselves “back on the block. "Nowadays, they teach the young and old in classes from Argentine Tango to Salsa and Yoga as well as organizing community and school performances. “It is for us to pass along as it was passed along to us, ” Donna said, thoughtfully. Donna and Enrique believe that Alpha Omega - despite being a smaller organization than some of their competitors - has been around for so long because of their strong commitment to growing organically, allowing their voices to be heard through their art. “It doesn’t matter if you have the best technique in the world if you can’t say anything, ” Enrique stated. Though they organize many performances in the community, their main objective is to teach. They do this through classes as well as the Choreographer Showcase Series, which aims to teach young choreographers how to add marketing skills to their creativity. I was most impressed to learn that there is a group of about twenty-five senior citizens that performs at quite a few events. The class began with the aim to get them moving, but it soon became clear that it was a mental workout as well. “It was as if they returned to what they were like when they were young, ” Enrique shared, and then continued while laughing, “They’re dirtier than the young people. They talk like they’re in a bar. ”At Alpha Omega, the couple has a unique commitment to not following trends. The way they see it, doing "older work" does not mean that you are dated. Rather, it is an admission that truth can also be found in the past. Even if it does not follow the path that everyone else is taking, according to Enrique, “you have to be true to who you are. " This kind of outlook allows them the ability to ‘“rock the boat, ” the space to grow organically, and the freedom to make their voices heard. “We are an ongoing book that is still being written, ” added Donna.