Monday, July 11, 2011

Dress Suits to Hire

The mystery building on Second Avenue and 5th Street has acquired an unfortunate new decoration.

A flowered curtain has been hung halfway up the second-story window. It covers from view the dusty, plastic-shrouded dinner jacket that has been displayed there for decades, capturing the imaginations of curious passersby who bother to look up.


today, my flickr

Goggla alerted us to the change, saying in a panic, "I walked by the 'haunted' 84 2nd Ave this morning only to find a floral bedsheet covering the window! I just knew something was going on with this place... A couple of months ago, I saw a work crew taking wood and junk out of the ground floor from the door that has the padlock on it. What do you think is going on?"

"I was just thinking this morning that it could very well be that the suit has been in the window since the day I was born and that thought thrilled and fascinated me...and then I rounded the corner and saw that sheet. I hope I've not cursed the place, but something about it has been making me nervous lately."


today, my flickr

We're all a little nervous about #84. There are those of us who watch it and wait, anxiously, for the day when it will be sold, when a multi-millionaire will turn it into a grand mansion, or the ground floor will be converted into a trendy farm-to-table restaurant, and all the mystery will be sucked away.

A few years ago, Jill did some deep investigative work on the place and its grisly history, discovering this news item from the January 18, 1974 New York Times: "From the Police Blotter: The nude body of a 40-year-old woman propietor of a tailor shop that rents tuxedos on the Lower East Side was found bludgeoned to death..."

As a neighbor told Jill, "The top floor is exactly the way it was when the daughter was murdered and you can still see the powder where the cops dusted for fingerprints."


June 26, my flickr

It seems the shop has stayed virtually frozen in time since that terrible moment. The dinner jacket, never hired out to a party, is white beneath its dusty plastic, and the shirt and tie are the orange sherbet color of baby aspirin. Above hangs a crooked neon sign announcing DRESS SUITS TO HIRE. The ITS in SUITS is broken and dangling.

Those of us who watch and wait dread the day when this melancholy tableau will disappear. Now, for reasons evermore mysterious, it has just halfway vanished.

17 comments:

Melanie said...

Wow!! What a tale!!. It was creepy walking by. Now I know some history about the place. The 1/2 curtain makes it look even stranger.

Anonymous said...

I SO know this place. Was once in front discussing it w/ a friend and said "it looks like something really horrible went on up there." And immediately, this WOMAN comes up and tells us a HORRIBLE story!!! She lived there... Years later I wrote about this haunted crime scene (and creepy stuff at the Merchant House Museum) for 10003 Magazine, a fabulous glossy that died last decade).

Jeremiah Moss said...

hey Anon, where can we find your article?

ShatteredMonocle said...

I love the green diamonds on the top floor. They remind me of this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set_(game)

Mitch Broder said...

I've always dreamed that someday I'd have somewhere to wear that jacket...

Goggla said...

They added more sheets/curtains over the weekend, so you can no longer see the back wall or archway.

bowery boy said...

I've spoken to the woman who lives there, and she was not nice... protective... but I wouldn't want anything to happen to her. She's definitely part of the fabric of the EV, albeit one of a unique patterned bedsheet.

Melanie said...

@Mitch Broder--perhaps to a prom or wedding??? That is what this jacket reminds me of.

Marty Wombacher said...

I never knew about this place, I have to check it out now!

Anonymous said...

this is a damned interesting piece. as for wanting to know more, of course everyone is curious. but if you were a relative of the killed woman and still lived there, would you want someone poking their nose into your really sad history when they probably haven't been able to move on?

gecko said...

In the 80s, maybe into the 90s, there were things for sale in the window. I remember a Encyclopaedia Brittanica 11th edition for $150. I remember this because I didn't have $150. I hope that found a good home, at least, but maybe the stuff wasn't really for sale.

Anonymous said...

I had a run in with that woman too. Was standing outside and she told me to move out of the doorway. At the time I just though she was crazy ev resident but now I would love to hear her story

Anonymous said...

A few years back I was standing in front of this building and the crabby yet nice lady that some have already mentioned here was out front. I tried to pick her brain a little about the building. At first she was a little suspect about giving out any info, then she started to give in a little. Told me about how nice the neighborhood used to be and how people used to 'get dressed up and walk up and down the street' or something like that. Up until a few years ago there were some interesting, hand designed (I guess), advertisements that hung securely in the doorways of the building. Secretly I always wanted to steal them, but I guess someone else did or the old lady took them down 'cause they ain't there no more.

Anonymous said...

There was a punk band back in the '80's that called themselves Dress Suits for Hire. Lest we forget. I always thought of it like Miss Havisham's Place, from Great Expectations. I guess it really is. Love that place.
Moishes Bakery is cool too. Miss Hammentaschen.

Anonymous said...

Had lunch at Pauls (burger and a bud!) today, walked by the place at 3:20pm--two guys hauling about 15 boards of sheetrock into the place....wonder what's up??

Anonymous said...

Hi, I run The Chiseler and would LOVE an article about #84 -- here's the link. chiseler,org

Anonymous said...

This is the address of a "temporary home for working women" described in 1883 by Nellie Bly in "Ten Days in a Mad-House" when she wrote an expose of the insane asylum on Blackwell's Island (now Roosevelt Island). You can Google her account of her stay at 84 Second Avenue.