Where have you Gone, Nathan, Mayor of Orchard Street?

Posted on: October 7th, 2021 at 5:01 am by

Nathan outside Russ & Daughters

If there was one constant on the Lower East Side, it was Nathan, the so-called Mayor of Orchard Street. His perch for decades was near the corner of East Houston, but his whereabouts of late worry those who take pleasure in his presence.

Now we know. A concerned neighbor sent us the following dispatch about the “disappearance” of Nathan.

A few weeks ago Nathan disappeared, he had been acting strange and seemed ill. One afternoon he sought refuge in the Modern Chemist gift shop and Russ & Daughters, they suggested he go to the hospital and he refused. He walked away, left his precious bag and chair at the gift store and the mystery began. It was as if he had walked off the face of the earth. My husband remembered his last name, and my brother called all the hospitals and found him at Bellevue. We understand a few other neighbors, went to visit Nathan in the hospital and it appeared he had had a stroke. He was pissed, couldn’t smoke, hated the food, and was cranky in general. It appears his health then further deteriorated, and he was moved to a nursing home in Brooklyn. The story ends there, we don’t know what nursing home or if it’s permanent or for “rehabilitation.” He has/had housing in an efficiency in a homeless residence on the west side. Neighbors helped him get the housing, I don’t know if they hold it for him or what.

He was a royal pain in the ass, annoyingly opinionated, but funny, loyal to the block and so kind to my kids over the years. Hell, they gave him birthday cards! He was on our Christmas list.

In recent memory, Nathan spent most hours in and around the bench scene of Russ & Daughters. Longtime locals might remember that his original home base was a chair outside the now-demolished (and re-developed) Ray’s Pizza on East Houston, where the former owners would sometimes let him crash in the basement. But the pizzeria was busted for involvement in a drug ring years ago, and Orchard eventually became his de facto home, patrolling the benches outside the American Apparel. From here, he provided “outdoors security,” keeping watch and cleaning up.

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