The Bottom of the Harbor
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
On the centennial of Joseph Mitchell's birth, here is a new edition of the classic collection containing his most celebrated pieces about New York City. Fifty years after its original publication, The Bottom of the Harbor is still considered a fundamental New York book. Every story Mitchell tells, every person he introduces, every scene he describes is illuminated by his passion for the eccentrics and eccentricities of his beloved adopted city.
All of the pieces here are connected in one way or another--some directly, some with a kind of mysterious circuitousness--to New York's fabled waterfront, the terrain that Mitchell brilliantly made his own. They tell of a life that has passed--of vacant hotel rooms, deserted communities, once-thriving fishing areas that are now polluted and studded with wrecks. Included are "Up in the Old Hotel," a portrait of Louis Morino, the proprietor of a restaurant called (to his disgust) Sloppy Louie's; "The Rats on the Waterfront," which has inspired countless writers to attempt portraits of these most demonized New Yorkers; and "Mr. Hunter's Grave," widely considered to be the finest single piece of nonfiction to have ever appeared in the pages of The New Yorker.
Here is the essential work of a legendary writer.
record is 1874. The name of the hotel was the Fulton Ferry Hotel. The hotel saloon occupied the whole bottom floor of the building next door, and the hotel restaurant was right in here, and they had a combined lobby and billiard room that occupied the second floor of both buildings, and they had a reading room in the front half of the third floor of this building and rooms in the rear half, and all the rest of the space in both buildings was single rooms and double rooms and suites. At that time,
ditches in the Staten Island marshes; they live in clean blue water in Sandy Hook Bay and they live around the outfalls of sewers in the East River. There are eight or nine hundred old hulks in the harbor. A few are out in the bays, deeply submerged, but most of them lie half sunk behind the pierhead line in the Jersey Flats and the flats along the Arthur Kill and the Kill van Kull—old scows and barges, old boxcar floats, old tugs, old ferryboats, old sidewheel excursion steamers, old sailing
the end of this lane is an old cemetery. It covers an acre and a half, maybe two acres, and it’s owned by the African Methodist church in Sandy Ground, and the Sandy Ground families have been burying in it for a hundred years. In recent generations, the Sandy Grounders have had a tendency to kind of let things slip, and one of the things they’ve let slip is the cemetery. They haven’t cleaned it off for years and years, and it’s choked with weeds and scrub. Most of the gravestones are hidden. It’s
pulled up a weed. Then he stood up, and shook the dirt off the roots of the weed, and tossed it aside. “Ah, well,” he said, “it won’t make any difference.” (1956) Dragger Captain The biggest fishing fleet in the vicinity of New York City is a fleet of thirty wooden draggers that works out of Stonington, Connecticut. Stonington is four local stops beyond New London on the New York, New Haven & Hartford. In the winter, when the trees are bare, a corner of its harbor can be glimpsed from a
there. They’re mostly old men. They stand around and watch us bring the fish ashore and sort them and box them, and the sight of the shad seems to do them good. Some are old men from Edgewater and Fort Lee. Others are old men I never see any other time. They show up year after year, and I say hello to them and shake hands, but I don’t know their names, let alone where they come from. I don’t even know if they come from New Jersey or New York. Several have been coming for so many years that I tell