A portrait by Gus Wittmayer, entitled, “Gypsy Girl”
(courtesy Wittmayer Studios, Atlanta)
As part of the City review of our project, ABC No Rio was required to hire consultants to perform an historical, documentary study of our site at 156 Rivington Street.
The report prepared by Chrysalis Archaeological Consultants traces the history of the site from the 17th Century to the present, and includes many interesting facts, such as:
—Jacobus van Curler (Corlear) acquired the land at what is now 156 Rivington Street in the 1630s; although Corlear had initially promised the property to a freed “negro” who occupied the site, Anthony Fernando, he then sold the land to William Beekman in 1652; Beekman then successfully evicted Fernando from the land he’d been farming;
—Tax records indicate that from at least 1827 to 1830 the site was occupied by the Sterling Company, a manufacturer of nails and chains that employed up to 400 workers;
—In the 1830s John Sniffen, his wife Jane, and their eight children lived at 156 Rivington Street; Sniffen was a staunch proponent of the Graham System of Living, which called for the adoption of a vegetarian diet as a means to prevent impure thoughts;
—In 1861 musician and composer Gaetano Daga lived at 156 Rivington Street; Daga is best known for his 1843 piece “Union Blues Quick Step,” which is in the Library of Congress;
—In 1919 the storefront at 156 Rivington Street was leased to photographer Gustave Wittmayer; Gus’ Photo Studio was at 156 Rivington Street and then at 158 Rivington Street for the next fifty years;
We’ve decided to make two versions of the report available on our website for those with an interest in the history of New York and the Lower East Side:
A smaller file of the report (2.4MB), without the Geotechnical Report as an appendix can be downloaded at: http://media.abcnorio.org/reports/abcnorio_documentary_study_no_geotech.pdf
The file that includes the Geotechnical Report (8.2MB) can be downloaded at: http://media.abcnorio.org/reports/abcnorio_documentary_study_complete.pdf
Information in the Geotechnical Report is pretty arcane, and may be of limited interest to those without a background in engineering or geology.