Baldwin Village, Fall 1969-Fall 1971
During the summer of 1969 the American expatriate community’s commercial center on Baldwin Street consisted of four storefronts and one warehouse. The Yellow Ford Truck opened for business the previous summer at 11 Baldwin Street. In April 1969 it moved to #25, previously a kosher poultry store. Ragnarokr leather shop took the storefront at #11 Baldwin when the Yellow Ford Truck moved to #25. In March the Slum Goddess artist’s studio opened at #33 D’Arcy Rear but closed in May due to a lack of funds. In June John and Laura Phillips opened the Baldwin Street Photography Galley at #23 Baldwin Street and in July the Whole Earth Food Store opened around the corner at #160 McCaul Street.
Jimmy Wilson continued to promote Baldwin Street as an alternative to Yorkville Avenue and encouraged youth-oriented businesses to open on the street. By the summer of 1971 his efforts were bearing fruit. That spring the 167th Street General Store attempted to revive the grocery store at #26 Baldwin but closed in the fall. The Young Communist Party occupied #24 Baldwin briefly before moving to #21 on the other side of the street. The building at #11 changed hands and the Ragnarokr leather shop moved to #33 in August 1969. #11 was made over into a bean-sprout and tofu factory by the new Chinese owners. By the fall of 1971 three more youth-oriented businesses had opened; Cosmic Egg Surplus at #26, Osshke Noodin Clothing Store at #31 and Letki Designs silver jewelry at #26. These three, Cosmic Egg Surplus (owned by Kent and Karen Lawrence), Osshke Noodin (owned by John and David Anderson) and Letki Designs (owned by Michael and Paula Letki) survived and became integral parts of the Baldwin Street community.
The increased foot traffic benefited the Jewish and Chinese-owned businesses as well. Silverstein’s Bakers on the east side of McCaul Street was a wholesale bakery but sold bread to the public from large bins near the front door. At the corner of Baldwin and McCaul Streets, Nissenbaum’s Shoes sold upscale footwear and across the street, at #1 Baldwin, the Portuguese Barbers cut hair. At #2 Baldwin, on the north side of the street, was Lawrence Tailors, at #9 Jack Handler’s Bag & Burlap bought and sold used burlap bags and at #16 Nifty Jobbers sold clothing findings. #27 was a variety store. Nick Type, the community’s auto mechanic, had his shop, Carlton Service, in the alley between Baldwin and D’Arcy Streets.
At #29 Mandel’s Creamery sold cream cheese both wholesale and retail and at #20½ Mr. Kirschof’s National Jobbers sold used clothing out of his storefront and warehouse. #22 was a butcher shop, #24 a tailor shop and #26 a grocery store. At #35 Rabbi Korolnik recycled used bottles and at #41 Mr. Grossman bought and sold used clothing. (Soon afterward Mr. Grossman sold his store and someone put in a furniture shop.) At #43 was a Chinese-owned business ‘Kwong Lun Fish’. At #45 Nick’s Grocery was the community’s convience store and at #47 Mr. Grossman dealt in used metal and plastic drums. At #51 rear Atlas Drums also bought and sold used barrels. At the corner of Baldwin and Beverly was the Chinese Presbyterian Church. There were also a few storefronts on the north side of Baldwin between Henry and Beverly but only one, Mr. Grossman’s tailor shop, was used commercially in 1971. The others had been converted into living rooms by the families that lived behind and above the storefronts. The Berry family lived in one of the storefronts.
The narrative continues at The settlement at Frostpocket, December 1970-April 1972