Onetime Anarchist Haunt Gets New Tenant, Historical Marker

Outside 50 E. First StreetJared Malsin

After standing vacant for over a year, the First Street storefront that was once a raucous saloon frequented by Emma Goldman and other radicals has finally found a new tenant.

According to members of the coop that owns the building at 50 East First Street, the ground floor will soon be home to the offices of the photography magazine Fantom.

Coop member Christin Couture said of the new tenants, “They’re really nice people. They’re really sensitive aesthetically.” She added, “We’re happy to have something mild mannered and just low key.”

Not only is the building getting the sort of booze-free tenant the coop had hoped for: it’s also getting a historical marker.

Emma Goldman's hauntJared Malsin The vacant space in February.

Last month, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation informed the coop that the site of the saloon had been selected to receive a plaque. Referring to Justus H. Schwab, who operated the establishment until his death in 1900, the letter informs: “Schwab was a vocal leader in the labor, socialist and anarchist movements and his saloon was an important meeting place for like-minded radicals of the day, including anarchist Emma Goldman and writer Ambrose Bierce, many of whom used the saloon as their mailing address.” Goldman once called the tavern “the most famous radical center in New York.”

A ceremony marking the installation of the plaque is set for May 30.

Meanwhile, Ms. Couture said Fantom would likely take three months to renovate the space, which The Local visited in February, before moving in. “You can understand how she wants the facade to look really beautiful and impeccable,” Ms. Couture said of the magazine’s editor, Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, a former artistic director for Art Basel and Art Basel Miami.

Fantom, which currently lists addresses on Grand Street and in Milan, calls itself “a new international publication about the uses and abuses of photography.” The magazine’s website says it’s about “the art of capturing timed effects of light.”