Rehab Begins for Fire-Ravaged School Building in Chinatown

Posted on: February 14th, 2020 at 5:07 am by

Photo: Karlin Chan

In the wake of the devastating fire at the old Public School 23 building in Chinatown, the cleanup and rehab is full throttle.

City contractors starting assembling scaffolding at the scorched 70 Mulberry Street earlier this week. The web of bars is making its way up the whole structure ahead of imminent debris removal.

Meanwhile, this past Tuesday, displaced nonprofit Chinatown Manpower Project hosted a roundtable for businesses along Mulberry and Bayard with two mayoral aides to address concerns over loss of business (and parking) from the area street closures. These owners sought permission to place posters on the barrier that blocks the roadway to show customers they are open.

The city hasn’t been too forthcoming with information on next steps. However, the representatives at the round table did state Mulberry Street will eventually be sealed to traffic once debris removal and rebuilding begins.

Photo: Karlin Chan

The fire destroyed the roof and upper floors of the historic building, erected as Public School 23 in 1892. It burned hot, and required the efforts of more than two hundred firefighters to extinguish. Nine were injured in the blaze, as well as one civilian evacuated via tower ladder; all with non-life threatening injuries. Several nonprofits were displaced, and the archive of the Museum of Chinese in America was nearly lost.

While standing there yesterday, I did witness city workers entering the second and third floors via exterior fire stairs, and wondered why the remaining MOCA archives couldn’t be rescued in this manner, as well.

So, for the foreseeable future there are more disruptions ahead for Chinatown.

Recent Stories

Pickle Guys to Close Next Week, Hope to Reopen in May

Some sour news indeed for Lower East Siders: The Pickle Guys are going on hiatus. Indefinitely. The brine stalwarts of Grand Street announced the closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover. The pickle peeps hope to return at the beginning of May. The store will remain open […]

Straphanger at East Broadway Station Chases Down Mugger to Retrieve his Wallet

Criminals are still out there, in spite of the COVID-19 lockdown. Especially in the largely empty subway stations. East Broadway station again lives up to its dangerous reputation with a mugging there last week. According to police, a man entered the station at Rutgers Street and East Broadway at 8:45pm on March 24 to purchase […]

These Lower East Side Bars and Restaurants are Crowdfunding for their Staff [Updating]

Definitely one of the hardest hit, New York City’s nightlife scene is suffering due to the COVID-19 shutdown. So much so, that businesses are trying everting to stay afloat. Some are successful, like Forgtmenot on Division Street, which morphed into a full-fledged grocery (“The General Store”). Under the banner of staff relief, bars and restaurants […]

Adam Schlesinger, Fountains of Wayne Cofounder, Dies of Coronavirus Complications

Adam Schlesinger – whose infectious melodies with Fountains of Wayne, as well as That Thing You Do! endeared himself to a generation – died yesterday morning from complications due to coronavirus. The Emmy Award-winning songwriter was 52. His condition the day before yesterday was reported by his attorney of 25 years as “very sick and heavily […]

Daily Clap: Cheering for COVID-19 First Responders

Since last week, city dwellers confined at home have been applauding first responders in the fight against COVID-19. Each evening at 7:00pm, a citywide round of applause commences. Windows open, balconies fill, and hands emerge. Clapping – or banging pots and pans – for the tireless, selfless work of first responders on the front lines […]