Volume 80, Number 10 | August 5 - 11, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Photos by Clayton Patterson
Life on the wire: Scraping by at Houston and First
In the mid-1980s, the northwest corner of Houston St. and First Ave. on the Lower East Side looked bombed-out. A few homeless men were squatting in the spot, where the benches were missing most of their slats and a fire smoldered in a barrel. “There was all that wire,” photographer Patterson recalled, referring to the pile in the photo’s lower left corner. “And they’d take it to the place on the Bowery and turn it in. They’d burn off the plastic, so they’d get more for it — then they could just sell it as copper wire. You used to have Harvey, a homeless guy with a lot of carts. He used to be a runner for upscale people who wanted to get heroin or coke. I think he was in Tama Janowitz’s book.” Today the corner sports a park, smooth sidewalk and healthy trees, below.