Looking Backward: 44 East Eagle Street

by / Aug. 30, 2017 1am EST

The four-story building at 44 East Eagle Street, likely built in the late 1840s or early 1850s, was typical. It was nearly a survivor, lasting until its demolition in about 1990. In this undated photograph, the ground story was still occupied by its two last uses: Royal Shoe Repair and an adjacent shoe shine parlor. The upper stories were last used as a 13-unit rooming house. This building occupied all of its 40.5 foot by 45 foot parcel, contributing as much if not more density in its small footprint than in many “modern” downtowns of skyscrapers and parking garages. Such small-scale, mixed-use buildings were once the backbone of an economically productive city, and building them has become a lost art in an era of economies of scale and servitude to the automobile. The only evidence of the building’s existence today are the invisible lines of the parcel it once occupied.