5 RIVINGTON ST, EAST STOREFRONT . . . is now a high-end Japanese ‘home’ design shop, called Green Fingers Market, with a very Japanese-through-rural American take on fresh plants & flowers, with a strong focus on retro American design, with plenty of retro American objects, new and old, like re-configured iron lamp fixtures, a wide array of very chic vintage clothes, like distressed white t-shirts from the 40s, a few old Navajo rugs, some handsome handmade trinkets, fabulous design books, and trend-setting contemporary Japanese pottery, and even some very modern wooden and lacquer vessels.

Richard Hambleton’s name is still on the top of the buzzer at the doorway into the apartments inside, but I got so spooked !! the photos I took, that I thought I took of them, don’t seem to exist. when I looked at my camera, when I got back home, they just weren’t there ?!!

flowers arranged in profusion outside, and they are not even locked – down !!
when we lived there, we had a concrete wall, like a bunker – instead of a plate glass window in front, it was so scary raw, and full of low-life that once the kids sat outside on the door stoop, and a ‘couple’ offered them ice cream, if they would come for a walk !! . . yep. that was the last time they sat outside.

the most beautiful flower arrangements inside.
it was ghostly, to think of all the flower watercolors I had painted many years ago, in that scuzzy downtown bunker – and, now to find such a lovely flower shop in place. and Japanese too. I wrote my masters thesis on Japanese art.
we lived here for something like 10 years. 1987 to 1997. we originally sublet the floor-thru space from Hambleton for $600 a month and then, scuzz-bag that he was and is, he didn’t pay our rent to the landlord, and long story short, we were in landlord tenant court for 8 or 9 years, not paying any rent at all !! all that time, and finally they had to pay us $80,000 to get out.
the area had taken a brief 10 years to gentrify enough, to make that worthwhile for them . . .

looking from inside the store – out the back window, onto the backyard . . .

the new store had re-designed the backyard garden, apparently it had fallen into disrepair, but we had had a beautiful garden back out there, too.

in the backyard garden, at 5 Rivington, 1993.
our upstairs neighbor, CLIFFORD designed and took care of it.

5 Rivington St – East Storefront, I guess it must have been about 1989 ?

that’s the way it was, the Lower East side, back then. very raw, and really exciting, gritty, hardcore, with boarded-up windows on the outside, and often, if it was an artist home – a beautiful garden, like you would never expect, outside in the back.

PHOTOS: NANCY SMITH, except where noted.