A Journey Through Chinatown

Allen/Pike Street

Images copyright RK Chin,
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see also: Allen Storefronts

Allen Street was once a dark, and narrow street running underneath the Second Avenue elevated railroad. For several decades, the street was known as brasstown because of the proliferation of metalworking stores here, but the street never saw its potential for retailing; instead, it remained a major red-light district since the 19th century populated with marginal businesses, crime, prostitution [6], drug use, and the homeless. In 1931, the city widened this street by razing a large swath of tenements from Houston St on down to Canal. In 1942, the elevated railroad was dismantled, but the street remained little improved.

25 April 2009. Allen street has always looked and felt "low-rent" to me.

25 October 2008. Allen and Broome St, facing south.

When Allen Street was widened, a pedestrian mall was built right down the middle of Allen Street as a sort of recreational area/park. The mall languished in a state of disrepair for decades. [1] In the 1990s, in an effort to evict the homeless, the city removed every bench on the mall from Houston St to Delancey. [5]

23 October 2008. Allen and Broome St, facing north.

When Federal funds were secured to renovate the mall, in the 1990s, community groups banded together proposing new reuses for the park. Their study [2] culminated in the construction of a "demonstration" park in April 2008 as a prototype of what could potentially occupy this underused space.

[ PDF ]

new traffic changes to Allen Street coming in 2009/2010.

2005. He's not really 6 feet tall. At "Measure Yourself To Scale", a site-specific art installation by Ezra Shales. 92 Allen Street, corner of Broome.

[1] "SQUARE FEET/Allen Street; Reclaiming a Street For People, Not Cars"
By C. J. Hughes, December 19, 2004, New York Times.
[2] Hester Street Collaborative community study on Allen Street
[3] "Trip to the mall proves anything but pedestrian"
By Daniel Wallace, Oct 26 - Nov 01, 2005, The Villager.
[4] "Downtown arts group to open Governors Isle studios"
By Matt Townsend, Oct. 17 - 23, 2008, Downtown Express.
[5]"Allen St anarchy - a little LES history"
October 2004, City Rag blog
[6]"City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920"
Timothy J. Gilfoyle. Norton & Co, 1994.

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