Site icon Bowery Boogie

The 1970 Car Crash that Nearly Knocked Out Yonah Schimmel’s

Photo: FDNY

Photo: FDNY

This photo, culled from the FDNY archive, is crazy.

Over forty years ago to the day (August 1, 1970), twenty-three-year-old Brooklynite Robert Sackett crashed his 1962 Cadillac directly into the body of 214 Forsyth Street. He had been driving eastbound along Houston at 8am, colliding with “two trees and a hydrant as [the car] hurtled east along Houston Street before smashing into the corner support of the old building.”  As the image illustrates, this early-morning collision caused the entire tenement facade to collapse, killing the driver on impact and injuring some ten residents. It was fairly miraculous that more people didn’t perish in the tragedy.

The New York Times noted that “the tenement, said to be more than 100 years old, with its front sheared away, looked like the stage set for some eerie play. A Teddy bear dangled from a broken floor plank. A fishing pole protruded from the second floor. An electric clock on a wall was frozen at 8, the time of the accident.”

One notable nugget from the decades-old dispatch was the police discovery of a high powered rifle, shotgun, and air pistol. The first responders didn’t take issue, telling the paper that there was “nothing unusual about a few guns in a building in this neighborhood.” Yeah, that wouldn’t so much fly today.

As for Yonah Schimmel’s Knishes, the restaurant ultimately survived the crash and most certainly lived to tell the tale.

Today the parcel of 214 Forsyth Street is occupied by the misleading GEM Hotel Soho.

The same corner in August 2014