When we were interviewing subjects for our oral history of former Ludlow-street-staple Max Fish last year, the image they painted of the Lower East Side, especially in its less-dangerous, more populated '90s iteration, was that of an artists' haven where decades-old neighborhood businesses still existed among new galleries, bars, restaurants and shops. Interviewee and Paper senior editor Carlo McCormick described it as follows:
It went from abandonment to being a strip. For a bunch of years, it didn't seem so bad. Everyone was opening up a business There were these little indie stores on Ludlow -- girls who made dresses. Stuff like that. And then it just got more crowded and less pleasant. I remember people really parsing it out too, like around the time Motor City bar moved into the neighborhood -- you'd hear people saying things like, " Oh, I live on lower Ludlow now, it's much cooler than upper Ludlow." I'd say it was over when Billy Corgan moved upstairs from Max Fish and spent $10,000 putting in new floors in a tenement apartment.A new video of Ludlow in 1995 unearthed by Gothamist captures this, some would say, more idyllic time, before the neighborhood was brought to its knees by light-speed development and Billy Corgan had the nerve to rip out some old linoleum. Watch as host Ronnie DeMonarco stops by the Nada avant-garde theater (which would later become early-aughts hookup palace The Dark Room), a pillow shop that had been there since 1922, a non-traditional bridal shop, and Aaron Rose's Alleged Gallery, where the late Harold Hunter can be seen discussing the convergence of skateboarding and art.