This is the tenth post of "The Union Street Project," in which I unearth the history of every building along the once bustling Brooklyn commercial strips of Union Street between Hicks and Van Brunt, and Columbia Street between Sackett and Carroll.
153 Union, the building that forms the eastern wall of the northern side of the block between Columbia and Hicks Street, is the structure just to the right of the famed Ferdinando's Focacceria. For at least a couple decades, it has been the bare-bones, deli and cigar store known as Sonny and Nancy's. They advertise themselves as the home of four lottery winners, and have done so for ten years or so. Which means no one has scored since 2000.
Sonny died a few years back; Nancy runs the store now. It's a nice place, though I find it curious that Nancy knows nothing about the cigars she sells. Old-time locals congregate here, and a newbie can be given the fisheye. There are framed photos of old-time Union and Columbia Streets on the walls.
I have been told anecdotal stories that the shop used to be a toy store before Sonny and Nancy came along. But before that it was certainly the Union Center Meat Market. You can see the building in the 1920s below. It's the shop to the left. As the photograph illustrates, the wirework around the windows today is original, though the fanciful brickwork has been simplified over time. I've learned nothing else about this butcher. But then, butchers rarely make the news.
An added bonus to the archival photo above is that it features 155 Union Street, a building that has not existed for half a century. It was one of the many structures torn down on this side of Hicks to make way for the BQE. Today it's a vacant lot, but in years past, as we can see, it was a barbershop. Next to it was a garage.
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