First Look: New “Shop Life” Exhibit at Tenement Museum

Posted on: November 21st, 2012 at 11:21 am by

Attending myriad Community Board 3 meetings and canvassing the neighborhood, we hear the age-old argument ad-nauseum. Would-be and established bar owners tend to bank on this catch-all notion of being a “true neighborhood bar.” Some are sincere, but most aren’t. Needless to say, it’s the gold standard to which so many strive – a coveted place where locals gather to shoot the shit over beers without the worry of the wrong crowd. The local.

This idea of the community social hub, a threatened species these days, is behind the newest long-term tour at the Tenement Museum. Transforming an under-utilized space, Shop Life strives to explain the story behind the commercial tenants which once operated in the ground level of 97 Orchard Street.

Shop Life tells the story of a Civil War veteran shoemaker and his unlikely push to open a saloon in a neighborhood then known as Kleindeutchland (“Little Germany”). After returning from the front lines, John and Caroline Schneider would eventually open their watering hole on November 12, 1864. It eventually became a place people frequented to get out of their living squalor and socialize with the neighborhood. Beer was served alongside an enticing spread of free lunch (extra salty to spur drinking).

We learn about the clientele that frequented the joint, the social clubs, and drinks of choice. And of John Schneider’s lonely death as pauper on Randall’s Island (then a poor house).

Also part of the tour story arc is the history of other later commercial occupants, including Israel and Goldie Lustgarten’s 1890s kosher butcher store, Max Marcus’ 1930s auction house, and Sidney and Frances Meda’s 1970s undergarment store.

In the southern storefront of 97 Orchard is a high-tech display sure to excite historians and computer nerds alike. Modified X-Box Kinect system that enables educators to elaborate on the ghosts of the building. Patrons place objects on the magic table designed by the wizards at Potion Design, which activates an audio explanation via old-school telephone earpiece.

Shop Life remains in previews until the end of the month to work out the proverbial kinks. We are told that tours officially begin December 3.

Recent Stories

thor-vandal
Atop the Hotel on Rivington, Street Art Takes Hold

It’s not just nightlife tune-ups, the Hotel on Rivington is seemingly trying to reinvent itself. Last month, we noted the nightlife reboot on premise. The Shanghai-themed lounge, Jia (formerly Viktor & Spoils), and an as-yet-unnamed Mediterranean restaurant in the adjacent space. Both are by the collective hand of Roberto Buchelli (Beautique, Provocateur) and Corey Lane (partner […]

icp-bowery-open
International Center of Photography Brings ‘Maman’ Cafe Outpost to the Bowery

The International Center of Photography officially opened its flagship Bowery location to the public yesterday. Its coronation was years in the making, and caps an extended period of dormancy for this storefront real estate at 250 Bowery. With its arrival in the neighborhood, though, is a tag-along eats occupant. Indeed, lost in all the headlines […]

2spring-sign-stand
Mic Drop: State Denies ‘The Stand’ Comedy Club a Chance on the Bowery

After four years on Third Avenue, The Stand was planning on relocating the comedy club to a basement on the Bowery. Apparently some impending development is pushing them out. However, the state denied owner Paul Italia and company a liquor license this week for the subterranean space below 2 Spring Street. Opposition to the establishment was entrenched from […]

bowery-boys
Ambitious ‘Windows on the Bowery’ Placard Project to Highlight History of Thoroughfare, Launches July 5

These days, the Bowery rarely gets due recognition for its pioneering architecture, and early contributions to myriad art forms, such as tattooing, punk, vaudeville, and Yiddish Theater. Instead, it’s really all about which historic buildings can be sold to the highest bidder for demolition and re-development. Armed with a platoon of historians and visually-striking imagery, […]

showdown-2016-1_wm
Scenes from Steve Nash’s 9th Annual Showdown NYC on the LES [PHOTOS]

Last night, the Lower East Side again played host to the annual Showdown NYC. It was the ninth outing for retired ball player Steve Nash, who rallied his athlete friends for another inner-city friendly. As in years prior, a delegation of NBA, MLS, and international soccer stars, as well as notable personalities, gathered at Nike […]