The Feast of San Gennaro returns to Manhattan’s Little Italy neighborhood this week after last year’s event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Kicking off on Thursday, the 11-day celebration began in 1926 as a way for immigrants in New York to maintain the Italian tradition of honoring the patron saint of Naples, Saint Januarius, with a feast every September. While the makeup of Little Italy has evolved over the last century, shrinking in size from 30 blocks to about nine, the Feast of San Gennaro remains one of New York City’s most popular events. Ahead, get a taste for all things Italian with our guide to one of the city’s largest street fairs, from the history of the iconic event to cannoli-eating contests and religious processions.
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Food, faith, family, and more food. The Feast of San Gennaro is in full swing, bringing the best of Italian cuisine and culture to a few blocks of Little Italy for 11 straight days. In its 93rd year, the Feast has evolved from its early 20th-century roots, as has the former immigrant enclave. Despite these changes, the Feast of San Gennaro remains one of the largest and most popular street fairs in New York City, as well as a way to preserve Italian American culture. Ahead, photographers and New Yorkers James and Karla Murray take us on a whirlwind food tour of the Feast of San Gennaro, from powdered sugar zeppoles and fried Oreos to Italian sausage and calzones.
Photo credit: MW Studio / Udom Surangsophon courtesy of Compass.
Millionaire private investor and man-about-town Bradley Zipper purchased this Little Italy townhouse in 2004 to use as a massive bachelor pad where he could host celebrity soirees and lavish business events for up to 400 guests. After dropping $3.385 million on the property, he hired Cortney and Robert Novogratz, the famous husband-and-wife design team, to deck it out. The result definitely fit the bill, rocking a 900-bottle wine cellar that’s a replica of one in a Meatpacking District club, a 14-foot mahogany and pewter bar imported from Paris, and a vintage 1940s pool table surrounded by graphite walls. Zipper started trying to unload the house in 2013, first for $15 million, then $13 million, next as a $35,000/month rental, and again in 2015 for $15.5 million. Now the six-story 5,000-square-foot townhouse with six outdoor spaces is for rent once again asking an adjusted-for-inflation $40,000/month.
Photo: Ajay Suresh via Flickr.
According to Property Shark’s just-released ranking of New York City’s most expensive neighborhoods, Tribeca once again takes the top spot in residential sales with a median price of $4.34 million. The bigger news is Hudson Yards, on the list for the first time as the city’s second-costliest neighborhood in Q2 of 2019 at $3.86 million. Also notable was Little Italy, the city’s third most expensive neighborhood, which saw median home prices increase by 153 percent over last year’s numbers.
Rendering courtesy of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects
The New York City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to replace a community garden in Little Italy with an affordable housing complex for seniors. The project, first introduced by Council Member Margaret Chin in 2012, will rise on the site of Elizabeth Street Garden, a quirky green space created in 1991 by Allan Reiver, who owns the gallery next to the garden. The complex, dubbed Haven Green, will include 123 affordable apartments and ground-floor retail. Originally, developers agreed to keep 8,000 square feet of public space at the site, but on Wednesday Chin said she reached an agreement to incorporate more open space at Haven Green through a courtyard next door.
The gallery is housed in a 19th-century firehouse, and later bakery, on Elizabeth Street. It has its own door to the garden next door
Shortly upon arriving in New York in the 1990s, Allan Reiver traveled to Coney Island with one goal in mind: find a shooting gallery. Reiver, who has always had a knack for finding art out of other people’s junk, bought one that same day from an older man who told him it had been boarded up since the 1930s when it became illegal to shoot live ammunition. Nearly 30 years later, the 10-foot high boardwalk game, still operational, sits in the back of the Elizabeth Street Gallery in Little Italy, where Reiver has housed unique artifacts and fine objects for nearly a decade.
Rare finds can also be found next to the gallery, scattered across a lush green space known as the Elizabeth Street Garden. Since 1991, Reiver has leased the land from the city, slowly transforming the lot with unique sculptures, columns, and benches, all plucked from estate sales. In 2012, the city revealed plans to replace the garden with a senior affordable housing complex, known as Haven Green, igniting a battle between garden advocates and affordable housing supporters. The City Council votes on the project Wednesday. Ahead of the decision, 6sqft toured Reiver’s gallery and the garden next door and spoke to him about building the green space and the plan to fight the Haven Green project in court.
240 Centre Street, formerly the New York City Police Headquarters, is somewhat known for its splashy pads with amazing details and high price tags–like this $40M penthouse in the building’s clocktower dome–that are better at getting attention than finding buyers; this remarkable duplex in the Nolita landmark is no exception. Late New York Five architect Charles Gwathmey designed this reborn 6,600 square foot home that includes what was once the police gymnasium. The stunning co-op has been on and off the market since 2008, at one point asking $31M (h/t Curbed); the four-bedroom apartment just reappeared on the market $18.5 million.
6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, award-winning authors and photographers James and Karla Murray introduce us to the faces and food vendors that make up the 2016 Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
2016 marks the 90th anniversary of the Feast of San Gennaro, which is held in the “Little Italy” neighborhood of lower Manhattan from Thursday, September 15 through Sunday, September 25th. The Feast is an 11-day salute to the Patron Saint of Naples, Saint Januaries, and it is the longest and most popular street fair in New York City (anticipated to bring in one million tourists and New Yorkers this year).
Little Italy was once known for its large population of Italian immigrants and is now centered on Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal Streets. Italians first began to settle in the area during the 1850s, but by the 1960s, wealthy Italians began to move out and Chinese merchants for the first time began to move north of Canal Street—the traditional boundary between Chinatown and Little Italy. Observing the changes in the neighborhood, Italian merchants and restaurateurs formed an association dedicated to maintaining Mulberry Street north of Canal as an all-Italian enclave, which it still largely remains.
Ahead we document some of the longtime New Yorkers, tourists, and decades-old Italian vendors who’ve added their own flavor to this year’s festivities.
This former warehouse building, constructed in 1915 at 138 Baxter Street, is right in the heart of Little Italy, just a block away from the Italian restaurants lining Mulberry Street. At some point, the seven-story building was converted into a six-unit apartment building, and this one is now on the rental market for $7,250 a month. It’s a two-bedroom apartment with super high 14-foot ceilings, big windows and a nice open living, dining and kitchen area–it spans 1,200 square feet total. It’s got all the loft bases covered, with some fun and funky interior decoration added on top. There have also been some sleek renovations in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Named for its envy-inspiring spot in downtown Manhattan’s chic Nolita neighborhood–where Soho and Little Italy meet the colorful edges of Chinatown, the Solita building at 161 Grand Street is a classic 1911 loft building that was converted to condos in 2001. Among its 18 rarely-available half- and full-floor units–one of which belonged to Sofia Coppola and hubby Thomas Mars until they sold it in 2012–is this updated and colorful 1,831 square-foot two-bedroom loft, which just arrived on the market for $3.5 million.
With a private elevator, central air, package-fetching super, video intercom and rooftop terrace, there’s no need to trade condo comfort for loft bones. But the price–about a million more than its (most recent) 2012 sale price–more likely reflects the tiny collection of impossibly cool boutique shopping, dining and residential blocks that have long been among the city’s most coveted while retaining at least some of their charming, ever-so-slightly gritty old New York feel.