Looking Back | 35 Cooper Square

A day after preservationists held a vigil for the demolished 35 Cooper Square, The Local takes a look back at the historic building with archival photographs provided by David Mulkins of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, one of the leaders of the campaign to maintain the building.

35 CooperSq with snow -DMulkins


35CooperSq circa 1870-80s painting

“That’s a painting of Cooper Square looking south from the Cooper Union building. Many other rowhouses are visible on both sides of the street. The Bowery was still one of the major entertainment districts in the city at that time, especially for the city’s working class who could not afford to go regularly to Broadway shows. The Cooper Square area contained some well-known gay nightspots, places where gays could go openly. One building across the street, 32 Cooper Square, was the most notorious of all. It was nicknamed Paresis Hall. We also know that there was another well-known gay establishment on the east side of the street that may have actually been located in 35 Cooper itself, it’s just never been confirmed.”—David Mulkins


Photo - CooperSq, S from CooperU 1903 - NYPL

“This one is also looking south from Cooper Union. The second building after the hotel is 35 Cooper. The elevated train was built in 1878.”—David Mulkins


35Cooper - 1917 - postcard

“This is pretty much what Cooper Square looked like as of five years ago. The only major differences are the elevated train and the two five-story buildings just north of 35 Cooper, which are now empty lots. That building with the blue roof is now the monster Cooper Union building. Much of the historic sense of place was still there five years ago.”—David Mulkins


35CooperSq - painting - PatriciaMelvin 2003Painting by Patricia Melvin

“The two yellow and blue buildings just east of 35 Cooper are where the 22-story Cooper Square Hotel is now.”—David Mulkins

Winter 2011

35 CooperSq with snow -DMulkins

“That’s the calm before the storm, you could say. That was shortly before the demolition began on 35 Cooper’s roof and dormers.”—David Mulkins

Feb. 2011

35 Cooper SQ.: The scrim of DeathTim MilkWorkers began erecting scaffolding around the building in February.

“It is truly a shame that we are standing here today to mourn the loss of 35 Cooper Square, a building so inarguably of tremendous historic significance.We continue to see the loss of more and more of the Bowery’s historic character, its buildings, and even its scale.”—Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, during last night’s vigil.

May 2011

35 Cooper Square From Feb. 2011 to May 2011Claire Glass (left) and Stephen Rex BrownThe transformation of 35 Cooper Square from February (left) to last night.

“This building was here during so many historic events. I wish the city would understand that. What a crime, all these community organizations couldn’t stop it. It takes the efforts of the whole community to save something like this, and sometimes it still doesn’t work.” — Honey Millmann, East Village resident, who dressed in a period costume during last night’s vigil.