South 2nd Street Over the Years

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A photo of the Bedford Avenue Reformed Church, built in 1828 on the corner of Bedford and South 2nd. 

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A photo of the Domino Sugar Refinery on the Williamsburg Waterfront. 

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Garage rocker Ty Segall performing to a typically rambunctious crowd at Death By Audio, formerly located at 49 South 2nd Street.

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A proposed rendering of the residential development at the former Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg by real estate Group Two Trees run by Jed Walentas.

South 2nd Street, the now former home of Sts. Peter and Paul´s Parish, has surely seen a vast amount of change and development over the past 200 years, as well as within Javier´s lifetime. 

South 2nd was first notable for being home to The Bedford Avenue Reformed Church (also known as the First Reformed Dutch Church of Williamsburgh), which was constructed in 1828. The Church sat at the corner of what is now Bedford (then referred to as ¨Fourth Street) and South 2nd  [4].

After the 1903 construction of the Williamsburg Bridge (a bridge which provided a straight shot from the Lower East Side´s Delancey Street across the East River to Brooklyn´s Broadway), Williamsburg saw a giant influx of Jews seeking refuge from the crowded, dirty, and often unsafe tenament buildings of the Lower East Side [1]. During the same era (between 1900 and 1920), the area saw another massive influx of Eastern European immigrants from places like Russia, Lithuania, and Poland. South 2nd and its neighboring South 3rd streets were eventually considered  the most dense blocks in New York City, with a combined total of 5,000 residents  [5]

South 2nd was often defined by its close vicinity to the Williamsburg Waterfront and thusly, the Domino Sugar Refinery. The building, built in 1856 by the notoriously wealthy and influential English Havemayer family, employed over 4,000 workers and processed 3 million pounds of sugar a day by the end of the Civil War, establishing it as the Port of New York´s industrial center  [10]. The Domino Sugar Refinery saw an exponential rise in demand for sugar after World War II, as Americans, long starved of treats such as sugar during the rationing era, desperately desired cane sugar as a sweetener in products like soda. In the 1960s, the factory became an incredibly attractive incentive to move to New York for various Puerto Rican and Dominican popuations, as it provided strong unionized work. Domino Sugar closed its Brooklyn location in 2004 after 148 years of consistent production  [10]

In the era between 1999 and 2001, the area of South 2nd between Bedford and Berry was referred to by local police officers as the ¨The Drugs and Death Corridor,¨ for its high crime rate and open drug market, as well as the fact that an underground cocaine bar named Kokie´s was in operation just around the corner on South 3rd  [7]. This era was short lived, however, as the area was soon to undergo both gentrification and large developments. In a paragon of the neighborhoods´switch from grime to glitz, the former location of Kokie´s (212 Berry Street, Brooklyn, NY 11226) is now The Levee, a local hipster bar  [7].

The area of the southside surrounding South 2nd, during the early to late 2000s, became home to a large DIY and Hipster subculture centered around illegal loft living and experimental music. The most notable example of this was the art space Paris London West Nile (aka Shinkoyo), a music venue that opened at 285 Kent Ave (on the corner of South 2nd) which professed to be a ¨no profit, waterfront property performance space-gallery with experimental music, performance, dance, film, visual, and culinary arts¨ [8]. The space, formerly owned as a satellite building to the Domino Sugar Refinery, would change hands many times, with its three seperate rooms eventually becoming Death By Audio (a DIY rock club), Glasslands Gallery (a bar, music venue, and gallery), and 285 Kent (a simply named punk and experimental venue opened and operated by Todd P)  [9]

In 2014, a vote was passed by the New York City Plannign Commission that allowed Two Trees Management Company to go through with its $1.5 billion plan to develop the abandoned site of the Domino Sugar Refinery into glassy luxury condos  [12]. Jed Walentas, principal of Two Trees Management Company, purchased land for the 3 million square foot project in 2012 for $185 million dollars. Community outcry has since occurred over the inaffordabiltiy of the proposed condos, as well as the effect the development will have on the beautiful views of Manhattan on southside streets such as South 2nd  [12]

South 2nd Street Over the Years