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A History of Magic in the Village and on the Bowery

photo source: Tom Klem
photo source: Tom Klem

Last night GVSHP presented a program at the Jefferson Market Library about the history of magic and magicians in our neighborhoods.

The speakers were long-time GVSHP supporter Tom Klem and his colleague Richard Cohn. Tom is an artist and historian, and a member of the Society of American Magicians, of which he is the former archivist and chairman of the board. Richard is a magician and historian, and is the current archivist at the Society.

They presented some wonderful historic images and told of the days when magicians performed at places like Otto Maurer’s Magical Bazaar on the Bowery at 2nd Street, and the Globe Dime Museum, nearby at Bowery and Houston Street.



Otto Maurer, image from Tom Klem
Otto Maurer, image from Tom Klem

And no program about magic would be complete without mentioning Harry Houdini. Though not born in New York, Houdini spent many years around the turn of the century performing his magic in clubs and theaters in our neighborhoods.

photo source: www.unexplainedstuff.com
Harry Houdini, circa 1905 photo source: www.unexplainedstuff.com

Tom and Richard also told us about Monday Night Magic at the Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street, on the corner of Minetta Lane. It’s the oldest continuously-operation magic show in the country, in the heart of the South Village historic district.

Photos and video from last night’s program are available online.

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