Nathan Hindin

Historic photo supposedly of Leonard Street in 1916
"Leonard Street, 1916"

I came across this photo posted in a local history group - the only information provided was the caption, "Leonard Street 1916". Based on the photo and caption, there was not a lot to go on. A stern gentleman - let's call him Nathan - standing in front of a rowhouse. Judging by the ironwork and windows, the buildings to the right appear to be 1850s transitional Italianate/Greek Revival. Nathan's building - based just on the ironwork (nothing else is visible) - is not part of the same development and is probably early 1840s. So where is this photo?

672 Metropolitan Avenue 1940 tax photo
672 Metropolitan Avenue, ca. 1940.

Leonard Street is 30 blocks long, running from Broadway on the south to Greenpoint Avenue on the north. Oddly, as of 1880, there were only a dozen or so brick buildings on that entire 30-block stretch. And none of them matched. Googling "Leonard Street 1916" easily turned up the original photo, which is clearly of a wider street and has the markings of the NYC Transit subway construction photos. Which means this is likely Metropolitan Avenue, and sure enough it is. A half block east of Leonard is 668 - 672 Metropolitan.

All three buildings still stand, and were intact as of 1940. Today, though, none of the original stoops or ironwork remain and 672 (Nathan's house) has been inexplicably covered up with vinyl siding (seriously - why do that to brick?).

So what about Nathan? He is Nathan Hindin, age 66 or so in the 1916 photo. Nathan was born in Russia and immigrated to the US in 1890. He and his wife Ida had 6 or more kids, some born here, some in Russia. Until at least 1905, Nathan and Ida lived on the Lower East Side. By 1910 he was living at (and owned) 672 Metropolitan. The 1915 NY State census tells us he was a furrier and Jewish. By 1920, Nathan was living in New Lots with one of sons, and he died in 1925.

There is not a lot of other information about Nathan, but it is always nice to put a name to a face.