April 20, 2012

The Return Of A Missing Child Mystery To My Neighborhood

Yesterday on my way home from the subway, I was surprised to see all these police cars and FBI vans parked on Prince Street with barricades blocking the road. Just a few blocks from my apartment, a missing child mystery more than 3 decades old was back in the news as the search was on for remains in a building that is now a fashionable Lucky jeans store.

The NY Times has an interesting article today which talks not so much about this missing case but the neighborhood itself and how it has been radically transformed in the 33 years since Etan Patz disappeared in his way to the bus. They describe how it was quiet area, filled with artists and machinists and not high end tourists. At night, it was apparently so empty that couples would have sex in darkened doorways. My favorite quote from an old timer in the hood: "It wasn't seedy. The docs were sleazy. [Soho] was gritty." Okay!

As investigators dig into the basement at 127B Prince, they are (as they article points out) digging into the neighborhood's quiet and almost small-town past.  In my play WTC VIEW, one character reminisces about playing football on Broadway in the '70s...a speech that was based on a recollection of someone who grew up here back when it was, well, a neighborhood.  Even when I got here, 20 some years ago, it had that feel, especially on my block which was filled with old Italians and Portuguese families.  Anyway, I find it interesting to see how much has changed and how the reopening of this tragic case is bringing all of that into relief.

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