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Mulberry Bend: 1905

Mulberry Bend: 1905

Circa 1905. "Mulberry Bend, New York City." The name was changed to Columbus Park in 1911. 8x10 glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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Baciagalupo story

Here's a short story on Chas. Baciagalupo's own funeral from the New York Times in 1908:

"Charles Bacigalupo, who for thirty years has buried the rich and poor of Mulberry Bend and Chinatown, was himself buried yesterday, and no funeral of such a scale of grandeur has ever been offered to the reverent if color-loving and emotional people of that section. Bacigalupo died in Brooklyn in one of those comfortable, old-fashioned mansions in Second Place... There were more than 200 carriages and seemingly endless processions of Italian societies with banners draped in crepe and bands sonorously sounding dirges that kept the mourners' tears welling to their eyes.

"After the services at the house the coffin was brought to the hearse—not the famous automobile hearse, but the finest that was ever built to go behind horses. Then six jet black horses, draped in white netting that flowed over the pavement, started toward the Brooklyn Bridge with six attendants holding their bridles. Behind the hearse were nine open carriages piled high with the flowers that the dead undertaker's hundreds of friends had sent."

Keep them assets earnin'

Mr. Bacigalupo will rent you his coaches any time, day or night... so long as they don't contain one of his "customers". Apparently a common practice... several years earlier, the couple responsible for the 1897 NYC "murder of the century" hauled away the decedent by hiring a wagon from their neighborhood undertaker. A touch of irony, in that case.

All in Chinatown Now

The buildings right behind the park pavilion are all in Chinatown now, and have been since at least when I lived in the area in the 60s and 70s. There were only a handful of longtime Italian businesses and families I knew left there on Bayard and Mulberry Streets. The tourist trap of restaurant after restaurant that is Little Italy now doesn't begin until north of Canal Street, running up Mulberry Street for about a half mile or so.

By the way, the building with the flagpole and flag to the right of center is 70 Mulberry Street, formerly Public School 23, and now the Research Center location of MoCA, Museum of Chinese in America.


I notice several gents having a nap while sitting on the benches. When I was younger, I couldn't understand how you could sleep sitting up like that. Now I wonder how you don't. Embarrassing in restaurants. Ahem.


Even if your comment isn't posted, others might still answer your questions. Glad to see that the pavilion is still there. Shame the park is now converted into so many basketball courts [nothing against basketball, you understand], but it would be nice to have the greenery.

The Other Half

This spot is the stuff of dark legends, as mythic a place as exists in New York. It once skirted the eastern edge of the Collect Pond, the fresh water supply of the Dutch and English settlements, and later marked the 12 and 2 positions of the Five Points, with the notorious alleys of Mulberry Bend, immortalized by Jacob Riis, burrowing inward from the street. The efforts of Riis and others brought about the demolition of the entire block between Mulberry and Baxter Streets. The park, designed by Calvert Vaux of Central Park fame, opened in 1897. The manicured ovals are long gone, replaced by basketball courts and playgrounds, but the pavilion remains, nicely restored in 2004. As the signage in the photo indicates, this was part of Little Italy 108 years ago, but is now firmly within Chinatown.

Not a school day

I have never seen so many children in a Shorpy photo before. Looks like this park is where they congregate. Has to be better than a tenement. From what I can tell 99% are unsupervised by an adult. Different times: when even small children improvised their own games and entertainment.

Five Points

And a shot of the notorious Five Points neighborhood, probably the toughest worst neighborhood in America ever, at least in the 19th century. At this point we are around the time of the Five Points Gang war with the Eastman Gang. Johnny Torrio and Al Capone were getting their start with Five Pointers at the time of this picture.

It's Chinatown Jake

The parkhouse still stands. The foreground is now mostly basketball courts.

The street on the left is Baxter Street. The buildings on the left, on the other side of Baxter, were replaced by the NY County District Attorney's office (1 Hogan Place) and NYC Criminal Court.

The street on the right is Mulberry Street. Yup, THAT Mulberry Street. The buildings on the right, on the other side of Mulberrry, are in Chinatown. The buildings in the farground, beyond the parkhouse, are in Little Italy. Little Italy has steadily been shrinking as it is subsumed by the expanding Chinatown.

Very close by was the infamous Five Points neighborhood and Collect Pond. Very much a "Gangs of New York" area in the 1800's. The pond was filled in after it became too polluted. The famous NY County Supreme Court (60 Centre Street -- where Chris Kringle had his trial in Miracle on 34th Street) would one day be close by on the left. To this day it has pumps in the basement working 24/7 to keep the water that used to flow into the pond from flooding the basement. So do several other buildings around the old pond site.

Mr. Bacigalupo

believed in the phrase it pays to advertise. Apparently he also has his name & addresses etched under a relief at the Most Precious Blood Church. Here's a very good link that gives backround on "The Popular Undertaker".

The buildings to the left are all gone, now the Manhattan Detention Complex. The building left of center with the large flagpole on the roof is still there (106 Bayard Street).

What if you were an UNpopular undertaker?

Did that mean you had to take Chas. Bacigalupo's leftovers?

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