Description & Building Alterations
No. 629 East 5th Street was constructed in 1907 by architects Bernstein & Bernstein and once had a store on the ground floor. It is six stories in height with a slightly asymmetrical arrangement of the facade. The upper stories are clad in buff brick while the first has been clad in modern red brick. There is classically inspired decorative stone work around the windows which include scrolled keystones. The top floor windows feature segmental arches. The center two windows at the fourth floor have segmental arched pediments with scrolled brackets and floral decorative window crowns. There most likely used to be a cornice.
In 1942, after the United States entered World War II, a service flag was hung from this building across East 5th Street, and remained there until the end of the war.
After marrying in 1961, award-winning writers Samuel Delany and Marilyn Hacker moved into apartment 2B in this building. The landlord at the time, Noah Greenberg, offered this building to all the interracial couples who came to him looking for an apartment. At the time, interracial marriage was still illegal in many states in the country, and even where it was legal, it was often looked down upon. While living here in 1962, Delany’s first published novel, The Jewels of Aptor, was released.
Delany grew up in Harlem, at 2250 Seventh Ave above his father’s business, Levy & Delany Funeral Home, which appeared in stories by Langston Hughes and other Black writers chronicling Harlem in the 1940s and ’50s. Delany’s mother was a clerk in the New York Public Library system. His grandfather, Henry Beard Delany, was born into enslavement but became the first Black bishop of the Episcopal Church. His aunts were civil rights pioneers Sadie and Bessie Delany, and Delany used their adventures as a basis for characters in his semi-auto-biographical Atlantis: Model 1924. His aunt and uncle were Harlem Renaissance poet Clarissa Scott Delany and judge Hubert Thomas Delany.
Delany published his first novel at the age of 19 and has won numerous awards, including four Nebula Awards and a Hugo Award by the time he was 27. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2002 and in 2013, he was named the 31st Damon Knight Memorial Foundation Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Delany’s genre-spanning career includes over 40 published works, which showcase recurring themes of mythology, class, sexuality, position in society, and the ability to move from one social stratum to another.
Delany has identified as gay since adolescence, even though he was married to award-winning poet and professor Marilyn Hacker for almost twenty years. He was selected by the Lambda Literary Report as one of the 50 people who had done the most to change our view of gayness in the last half-century.
No. 629 East 5th Street once had 34 apartments and three stores, but today the occupancy has been reduced to 24 residential units.
Block : 387 / Lot : 153 / Building Date : 1907 / Original Owner : Samuel Golding / Original Use : Residential/Commercial / Original Architect : Bernstein & Bernstein