Jersey Street is a little strip that briefly runs from east to west between Mulberry and Crosby streets in SoHo. It's one of those locations that stops locals and tourists alike dead in their tracks. For many folks, there’s something about this thin canyon that just defines the Manhattan of a bygone age.
More of an alley than a proper street (see also Courtlandt Alley, Jones Alley or Staple Street), this narrow passage through looming buildings -- bisected by the wider sprawl of Lafayette Street -- is visual shorthand for "downtown mystique." It's made cameos in countless films. Jim Jarmusch used it in the opening of his first independent film, "Permanent Vacation" from 1980 (see above) and again in 1984's "Stranger Than Paradise" (Eva waits on the corner of Jersey and Mulberry after unceremoniously leaving her cousin Willie's apartment). See below.
Fans of comparatively more contemporary pop culture might recognize the western end of Jersey Street as the fateful spot wherein Carrie Bradshaw was forcibly relieved of her precious Manolo Blahnik's in a frankly ludicrous scene from "Sex and The City" (presented for your enjoyment below, inexplicably in Italian).
For ages, it was abutted by Keith Haring’s Pop Shop (again, see below) and the Puck Building, another stately structure that briefly played host to the editorial offices of SPY Magazine back in the late 80's. I remember going to some lavish function there at some point on the ground floor. I want to say there's a outdoor supply store in that space now.
In any case, why am I waxing rhapsodic about Jersey Street now? Well, the other day, I spotted the video for "Down By Law" by second tier NYHC crew, Madball (essentially the literal "little brother band" to the mighty Agnostic Front). To be perfectly honest, I was never really a fan of Madball. By the time they were a going concern, I'd largely checked out of New York hardcore. By this point, the scene had jettisoned much of its punk roots in favor of a hip-hop flavored mook mentality, which was never really my cup o' concrete.
Regardless, in this clip from 1994, you can see the burly Madball gents flexing their guns and throwing lots of hardman poses within the confines of Jersey Street as if they were a bunch of urban Spartans at the Hot Gates. Despite being more of an East Village/L.E.S. gaggle (admittedly only a few blocks away, technically), I suppose the Madball boys figured the atmospheric walls of SoHo's Jersey Street evoked enough of the "Mean Streets" vibe to broadcast their toughness. Fair enough, but it's a bit more like watered-down Biohazard for my taste. Look for a Pop Shop cameo in the background.
Today, Jersey Street is still a picturesque little plot of real estate. The eastern end (where Eva once waited) now plays host to a branch of the New York Library. The Pop Shop on Lafayette is long gone, replaced by a clothiers who sells ersatz vintage punk shirts (among other things) for truly exorbitant prices, and it now abuts the horrible Puck Fair bar. But wander across Jersey Street when the time is right, and it still feels like a place out of time.
And one more...