SoHo’s Broadway in the 1970s mainly housed two kinds of ground floor businesses: textile/clothing wholesalers and the luncheonettes/diners that served to their employees/customers. Back then, few people lived in SoHo, so commercial activity was mostly restricted to the hours between 6 AM and 5 PM. Of course, by the 1970s many artists had moved into the lofts above these businesses, but it was still difficult to find a store selling clothing or a restaurant serving dinner in the evenings or over the weekend.
The exception was Dave’s Corner Luncheonette, at the southeast corner of Canal Street and Broadway (just outside the SoHo Broadway district), which was open 24 hours. Someone commented on Flickr that “at 4 a.m. Dave’s was filled with truck drivers, refugees from the Mudd Club and the usual denizens of New York.” The space is now broken down into several bag, scarf, and souvenir stores.
Candela was another such luncheonette, though open only during regular business hours. Today, a Duane Reade can be found at this location.
In the 1970a, the Haughwout Building, housed Broadway Manufacturers Supply Corp., purveyors of cotton fabrics. This was before the building owners had the facade stripped of its peeling black paint and repainted for incoming tenant, Staples, in 1995. The space is currently vacant.
Artist Ben Schonzeit, describes living in his first loft at 508 Broadway, “above Saul Feifer Hats and Caps. To the trade during the week, but flexible and retail on Sunday when no one was looking. Most of the stores were operated by observant Jews who left early on Friday, as did my heat, then opened Sunday morning turning on the boiler.” There is a White House/Black Market store there today.
Schonzeit frequented the nearby Eagle Diner on Broadway at the northwest corner of Spring St. “If the waitress knew your name and she knew many you were addressed by name,” he says. “If not ‘Doll’ was pleasant and worked for everyone else. Owned by two brothers who came in very early from the boroughs. Most of Broadway ‘s buildings had factories above the ground floor that opened at eight or earlier.” The new Nike Store, opened just this past November, is on that corner today.
At 565 Broadway at the corner of Prince Street, the Check Writer Company shared space with the West Penn Hat and Cap Corp. The building was converted to residential lofts by architect Joseph Pell Lombardi, who also refreshed the facade of the Haughwout Building. The store Pink now occupies this space.