Block by Block: From Blighted to Brewing

The Brooklyn-born actress Cecil Spooner opened her own theater here in 1910. Three years later, dressed in costume and waiting for the curtain to rise, she was arrested in front in of a full audience for producing an "indecent" play, a dramatization of a novel by Reginald Wright Kaufmann. In the late 1950s, the theater became the Tritons Club, where Al Santiago's Alegre All-Stars held regular Tuesday-night jam sessions.

The largest of the South Bronx mambo clubs, the Hunts Point Palace bandstand hosted everyone from Tito Puente to Dizzy Gillespie to Arsenio Rodríguez. Its opulent balconies looked down on a dance floor that held 2,500 people, witnessing the evolution of swing, big band dance, jazz, salsa and mambo.

The salsa orchestra of Orlando Marín frequented the Alhambra, a popular summer club hangout for musicians after Hunts Point Palace gigs. It was where Marín first experimented with the pachanga song that would become his debut record, "Se Te Quemó la Casa."

Designed by the soon-to-be-starchitect Cass Gilbert (two years before he was commissioned to design the Woolworth Building), the Hunts Point railroad station was, at its inception, shot through with bright reds, yellows and greens, and lauded by the architectural critics of the day. It's one of a string of stations designed by Gilbert, though few remain intact.


The Point, a youth and cultural center founded in 1994, hosts arts workshops, community development programs and circus classes by the Cirque du Soleil's social outreach program. Tats Cru, the South Bronx-originated graffiti group whose work is now regularly featured in all manner of international advertising campaigns, has rented mural space at the Point.

The American Bank Note Company has printed pesos, sucres, cruzeiros, stock certificates, lottery tickets and, briefly, Confederate currency. Its vast fortress of a factory in Hunts Points houses artists' studios; a charter school; the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance; and Sustainable South Bronx, the nonprofit founded by Majora Carter, activist and MacArthur "genius" grant winner. The newest tenant may be Steve O'Sullivan, a former Wall Street analyst with plans to open the Bronx's first ever microbrewery--some brew  names in the running include Riverd(ALE) and Hip Hops Stout.

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