Monday, October 11, 2010

The Creamerie - New York City

O.K., I'm giving you 25 cents. What are you going to order at the Creamerie?
This is a little pocket menu from the Creamerie  Restaurant at 262 Bowery, New York City.
The pocket menu also includes an identification card on the back, with spaces for name, address, and birth date. Oh, and the birth date allows for any year that starts with 18__. There is also a space to record the number of the case on your watch and the number of the works. Did you know that watches were used for identification?  I didn't.

The other side of the card notes that the restaurant is open "at all hours." Does that mean it was open 24 hours?
Well, first I started thinking about all of the apple tarts and oyster sandwiches I could buy for a dollar. Finally,  I decided to distract myself from the magical concept of 100 cream puffs for $3.00 and find out more about 262 Bowery and its history.

I might have expected the history of any place on the Bowery to be colorful, but maybe not quite this colorful. The best resource ended up being the New York Times archives,  a fun ride on any day.  I found little that would tell me anything about the Creamerie or its proprietor, Frank Summer, but I did find that people from this address died often and in interesting ways.
Here are the highlights:

May 5th, 1869 - Plans were submitted for a five-story, "first class iron store" building at 262 and 264 Bowery. The lot size appeared to be 83' by 85' and was owned by William J. Gesner.

March 26, 1871 - The Chapel of St. Augustine, 262 Bowery, was crowded to capacity to witness the confirmation of forty individuals by Right Reverend Bishop Potter. The chapel appears to have remained there until at least 1890.

April, 1873 - L. Zellner, alias L. Cruz, who listed 262 Bowery as his address, was arrested for dealing in obscene articles.

1878 - Aetna Sewing Machines was located at this address.

August 12, 1884 - Joseph Gallagher, a 19-year-old waiter who lived at 262 Bowery was arrested for stealing watches and other articles of value from doctors at St. Vincents' Hospital. He was caught going through one of the corridors in the hospital in his bare feet. Gallagher had previously worked at the hospital.

March 13, 1888 - 60 year-old Andrew Jauch, who lived at 262 Bowery (Schirmer's Lodging House), committed suicide on this date by ingesting Paris green.

June, 1888 - A Tailor by the name of Bernhard Marks was attached by L. Schwarz & Co. . Marks had recently bought the business from Louis Corn and then had his name changed from Gambitsky to Marks. Bernhard Marks was one of four tailors who had failed within a few weeks.

July 29, 1888 - Edward Cook of 262 Bowery was in a boat with Patrick Byrn and Byrn's two children when the boat capsized.  The adults, who could not swim, were rescued by a  row boat, but the children's bodies were not immediately recovered.

1890 - Moses Rephael had a crockery business at this address.

June 13, 1890 - John H. Waite was taken from Schirmer's Lodging House at 262 Bowery to Bellevue Hospital where he died in the pavilion for the insane ten hours later. Doctors said that he died of starvation and acute melancholia. They believed that he killed himself by abstaining from food either because he thought he was mistreated by his wife or because he thought all nourishment was poison. They tried to administer whiskey and milk when he was admitted to the hospital, but he spit it out.

June 20th, 1897 - Frederick Konig, 21, died at 262 Bowery.
August 2, 1897 - Max Berninghoff, 68, died at 262 Bowery.
May 18th, 1902 - John O'Brien, 62, died at 262 Bowery.
August 6, 1910 - Frank Schultz of 262 Bowery was arrested in Hackensack, New Jersey, leaving the house of Frederick van Saun with a suitcase full of loot.

May 22, 1915 - Karl Schmidt, an indigent resident of 262 Bowery, died in Bellevue Hospital. Once it became known that he was actually rich, relatives appeared out of nowhere to claim an inheritance. Apparently Schmidt always left the house at about 8 and returned at 6, but no one ever knew where he spent that time.

The building that currently stands at 262 Bowery was built in 1920 and houses a restaurant supply business.


  1. maybe the place was jinxed?
    i found on the web a few pics from Bowery street, one from the 1880s and others, early 20th century:

    interesting post!!

  2. Wonderfully informative : and with my 25c I will have the steak and fries and - do you think they will let me have a glass of beer for 2c?

  3. Ticklebear - great photos! Thanks for that link.

    Alan, I didn't notice until you mentioned it that there is no beer on the menu. Americans have always been funny about liquor.

  4. I'm going to buy a vanilla cake and hot chocolate. Can I save the change to buy toys at the new Woolworth's Five and Dime? I think it's nearby...

  5. Tracy, you might even want to forgo the hot chocolate to have extra money for those toys, although the cast iron ones could get pretty heavy.

  6. Can you imagine the change you would have to make with the prices like that. I think of that as I use to run concessions stand at school and many times the prices were set to facilitate easy change. Great menu.

  7. What a rich post! I wonder what year/s the Creamerie was located at 262. I tried to fit it into your newspaper finds but couldn't decide. I noticed Graham Muffins on the menu, it was after 1829 when Dr. Graham invented graham flour - but that doesn't narrow down the date much. I think I'll go for dinner on Friday so I can have their fish.... Thanks for another great post.

  8. Wow, I can see why this is your favorite. A watch as ID--who knew? The Bowery was the place for fun and mayhem back then, so that would help ID the corpse.
    Oysters were the hot dog stands of their day. Gaslight New York and Gangs of New York tell tales of the era, and Luc Sante's Low Life -- but I have a feeling you know those books already. Thanks for digging deeper for this and other intriguing posts.

  9. I'll have apple pies, cream puffs and chocolate eclairs - just throw me out when my 25 cents is up - oh, and a Graham Muffin as my surname is Graham so I ought to try one :-)

  10. Gosh, Christine, in one post you wiped out the whole notion of the good old days -- thieves, insane folks, suicide, transients:) hehehe

  11. I lived at 262 Bowery from 1986-1991.

    Thankfully I am still here (not hauled off suicidally insane to Belleview!) but on a little farm in Michigan :)

    So glad I found your page, how fun!

  12. Alison,
    Thanks so much for stopping by. If you have any insights or stories about living at 262 Bowery, feel free to come back and share the details.



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