(Late 1800’s Pictorial of Manhattan, with Corlears Hook on the Right)
From marsh land to farm land to dockland, and now Parkland, the Southeast bend of Manhattan has seemingly had many lives. The poetry of this changed landscape is hidden within history books and articles of scholarly reference. Walking through on this day, the casual observer would see a park with high-rise dwellings around; a beautiful, though not atypical New York landscape. It seems that people pass through this place, rather than linger.
Ole’ imagery of Corlears hook hearkens back to the rough and tumble days of the Lower East Side. Thriving during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, this place was filled with seedy tenements, boat docks, brothels, gangs and just about any form of low class activity society had to offer. A famous photograph from the Jacob Riis collection, references imagery of the Hooks underbelly. Further investigation into this now quiet, quasi-derelict promontory of land also reveals a link to a linguistic etymology, the origin of the word “hooker” (reference can be found in the sites below).
(Famous Image by Jacob Riis of the Short Tail Gang, under a pier in Corlears Hook, 1887)
Present time, standing here now, it is hard to imagine that this once was a crossroads for all forms of trade. This peripheral landscape, now occupied by the meandering East River Park, is a “Green” lung for the residents of The City. The passage of time has seemingly wiped the traces of past histories away, leaving a vast canvas for the urban flaneur’s imagination to roam free.
(Corlears Hook Park, after the clearance of the docklands, in the early 1900’s)
Other links of relateable note can be found here: