5 Essex Street to be Demolished

Posted on: December 30th, 2009 at 6:20 am by

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The onetime home of Dembitzer Brothers Electronics and the Chinese New Taoism Association will soon be reduced to a pile of rubble.  Indeed, the DOB deemed the decrepit structure at 5 Essex Street an imminent danger to the community, and unfit for habitation.  An official letter stapled to the plywood, dated November 18, clearly states that the three-story building must be demolished immediately.  Work permits filed earlier this month corroborate this intel.

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But the bricks of this old-time tenement carry an interesting history which may haunt any replacement.  Long before the Chinese New Taoism Association or Dembitzer Brothers occupied 5 Essex Street, this was once a notorious Typhus sanitarium.  As the Bowery Boys explain, the United Hebrew Charities arranged for the Mermer family, fresh off the Russian steamship Massilia in 1892, 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 Twelfth 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.

There you have it, more of the neighborhood erased.  Perhaps this lot is now hexed?

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