Outdoor ‘Cactus Store’ Sets up Shop in Vacant Essex Street Lot
The sudden rebirth of the dormant lot at 5 Essex Street is now upon us.
That “garden” replacement we told you about last month is actually less a refuge, and more a retail endeavor. Indeed, the lot is henceforth converted into a seasonal plant store, which explains the new open-air pavilion feel, complete with pavers and canopies.
Over the weekend, we caught a crew of young folk unloading succulent greenery from a box truck. Turns out, the Essex Street parcel will temporarily become The Cactus Store. Selling, you guessed it, cacti.
The so-called Cactus Store opens next weekend at 5 Essex Street, and, we’re told, will remain in place through September.
The former tenement that stood at 5 Essex Street came down seven years ago, a few years before “3-5 Essex Partners LLC” purchased the property and its neighbor (the old M. Schames & Son hardware store that’s since relocated to Delancey) for $3.5 million.
But the long-gone bricks of this old-time tenement carry an interesting history which may haunt any replacement. This property was once a notorious Typhus sanitarium. Back in 1892, the United Hebrew Charities arranged for the Mermer family, fresh off the Russian steamship “Massilia,” to live at this address. Ellis Island, however, failed to properly examine the boat, which was infested with the disease. Passengers with symptoms were quarantined here and further north at 42 East 12th Street. From these two locations, Typhus inevitably found its way out, and dozens of cases were later reported along the East Coast in the ensuing decade.