|The old staircase seeing the light of day|
after 20 years of being boarded up
I always hated 13th Street. The sidewalk was too narrow. Since the laundrymat was close to the corner I didn't really have to walk far along it.
One time in 1977 or maybe 78, we had a handsome Dutch visitor and we all took the Radical Walking Tour through the East Village (it was posted in the Village Voice and sounded really fun).
It rained the entire time but we dutifully followed the "tour guide" who really just loved history and gave the $5 a head to the Peace Building War Resistant League on Lafayette and Bleeker.
On 13th Street there was a nice enough building where Emma Goldman once lived. There was something about her being naked but I don't quite remember.
|the program of the Radical Walking Tour seeing the light of day after 37ish years in a folder|
Near enough to her doorstep was the hell-hole building and even someone dumb like me knew it was not a nice place and there was no need to walk past it.
Then it got boarded up in the 1990s and that was that. The pigeons and rats were happy. The people moving into the condos across the street, I don't know.
One could only assume that boarded-up building would one day house very rich people living in very rich apartments and telling their friends the building used to be an SRO, a crack house, a whore house and very very dangerous. As if they were the ones walking on the wild side.
So I didn't give the old building much thought. I still hated walking down 13th Street, but did anyway - a friend lived there and sometimes the Mariner insisted it was shorter than walking home another way.
And then EV Grieve posted something surprising.
That hell-hole wasn't going to the highest bidder.
It was going to become a haven, a safe place, a home for LBGT kids who didn't have a haven, a safe place, a home. It was going to become the Bea Arthur Residence for LGBT kids.
After so many years watching everything turn into something none of us could afford...
Suddenly 13th Street looked so beautiful.
Cooper Square and the Bea Arthur Residence
EV Grieve: Abandoned 13th Street Building Becoming Residence
Emma Goldman: The Most Dangerous Woman in America
How Bea Arthur Became a Champion for Homeless LGBT Kids