236 East 3rd Street | Block : 385 | Lot #23
Description & Building Alterations
The five-story Old Law Tenement building at 236 East 3rd Street was constructed in 1877 with stores on the ground floor and apartments above. The building is brick with a galvanized iron cornice that survives today. A rear building was removed in 1942 after having been vacant for nearly a decade. Since 1980, the first floor of the front building has been home to The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, a poetry house and cultural hub for writers in the East Village.
The Cafe, which has historically featured and supported LGBTQ artists, began in 1973 as a series of informal readings at Miguel Algarín’s apartment, after which it moved to 505 East 6th Street at what was formerly an Irish bar called the Sunshine Cafe. By 1981, the rapidly growing Nuyorican Poets Cafe, which included poets Miguel Piñero and Bimbo Rivas, moved to 236 East 3rd Street. The presence of Puerto Ricans in New York became more prevalent after mass migration took place following World War II. The term “Nuyorican,” popularized by the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, has come to mean “Puerto Ricans of New York,” particularly those born in New York to a Puerto Rican parent or parents. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg once called the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, “the most integrated space on the planet.” The space on East 3rd Street continues to serve as a stage for multicultural artists and is renowned for originating the late-night poetry slam.
Block : 385 / Lot : 023 / Building Date : 1877 / Original Owner : Ludwig Muller / Original Use : Residential/Commercial / Original Architect : John M. Forster