Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alphabet City, New York

Alphabet City
There is a neighborhood in the Lower East Village of Manhattan that is known as Alphabet City. The neighborhood gets its name from the 4 lettered avenues that run easterly from First Avenue to the river. Avenues A, B, C and D are the only streets in Manhattan to have single-letter names.

I lived in New York in the early 80's and the name Alphabet City evoked images of burned-out buildings, housing projects, garbage-strewn lots, squatters and drug dealers. For me, it was a "no-go zone", it was bizarre, scary, and seemed very dangerous.

Today this same neighborhood is sprouting up high-priced condominiums and luxury rentals. The area is more likely to be called the 'East Village' or 'the Lower East Side', as there seems to be a conscious effort to erase the history of what used to be the sleazy underbelly of the city.

This piece is an homage to what was Alphabet City, New York.

An 1800's dovetail drawer (found in a dumpster in Santa Monica), contains various vintage wood pieces depicting a neighborhood that once was. 
A printer's block, a clock's mainspring, vintage yard sticks, and mirror tell the story. Under the printer's block is a glass cigar tube containing marbles and yellow bingo balls. A ceramic mask has been papered in words and music and washed in gold paint. A glass chemistry rod added for effect.
A drawer pull has been added on top. The back of the drawer is papered in vintage dictionary text, and overlaid with brown and black stripped tissue, and an image of a bird on a wine bottle.

The piece may be displayed tabletop or wall hung.


  1. recto et verso..les deux sont formidable! j'ai appris la signification de ' laugh'...:))))

  2. The first time I visited NYC was in the 80s, and I was told to stay away from Alphabet City. I went anyway and saw the buildings, which I thought were unique and distinctive. From reading your post, it appears gentrification has set in, which saddens me in a way, although I do prefer a clean, well kept neighborhood.

    I love this piece, though. It actually conjured up memories I have of Alphabet City and the lower East End. And I can't believe you found that gorgeous drawer in a dumpster. You do far better than I at dumpster diving!

  3. I love that you take care to decorate the back of your pieces. I'm glad you explained the piece as I've never been to New York, it really has made me want to find out more. I love these story or theme boxes. xx

  4. I've never been to any part of New York City, but this piece intriguing and exciting - just a visual feast!

  5. You have such a wonderful imagination. Love this very creative and interesting work of art!! Thanks so much for sharing it at Vintage Inspiration Party.