Friday, January 03, 2003

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The Navy Yard District, spreading south and west of the yard from the East River, is a shapeless grotesque neighborhood, its grimy cobblestone thoroughfares filled with flophouses, crumbling tenements and greasy restaurants. It is bounded on the west by the Manhattan Bridge; while beyond the dull waters of the East River looms the New York sky line, like the backdrop of a stage set. In the nineteenth century the region was a residential district known as Irish Town, because of the predominantly Irish population. After the turn of the century, business and industry took over parts of the neighborhood and the pleasant homes fell into neglect. The population now is largely composed of laborers from local factories and the Navy Yard.

Sands Street is the principal thoroughfare, extending westward from the Navy Yard to the head of Brooklyn Bridge. Once this street, with its saloons and gambling dens, came close to establishing itself as New York's "Barbary Coast," and during the Prohibition era parts of it were patrolled to keep Navy men away. Today Sands Street still caters to sailors and Navy Yard workers. Shop windows display outfits for sailors; bars and lunchrooms, quiet during the day, become alive at night as their customers arrive.
The Navy Yard District, spreading south and west of the yard from the East River, is a shapeless grotesque neighborhood, its grimy cobblestone thoroughfares filled with flophouses, crumbling tenements and greasy restaurants. It is bounded on the west by the Manhattan Bridge; while beyond the dull waters of the East River looms the New York sky line, like the backdrop of a stage set. In the nineteenth century the region was a residential district known as Irish Town, because of the predominantly Irish population. After the turn of the century, business and industry took over parts of the neighborhood and the pleasant homes fell into neglect. The population now is largely composed of laborers from local factories and the Navy Yard.

Sands Street is the principal thoroughfare, extending westward from the Navy Yard to the head of Brooklyn Bridge. Once this street, with its saloons and gambling dens, came close to establishing itself as New York's "Barbary Coast," and during the Prohibition era parts of it were patrolled to keep Navy men away.