On the southeast corner of 86th Street and York Avenue is a stoop that caught my interest as a kid. 500 East 86th Street. It was the highest one on the block. I’d wait on top for my father to get off the crosstown bus. Sitting there, I noticed the railing on both sides looked like a really fat elephant sat on it and made it droop. Never knew why. Last month, I had a conversation with my friend, Bill Chefalas, and he told me a story.
Our Stoop – 500 East 86th Street
During the period 1955 to 1958, I, along with other neighborhood friends, used to meet almost daily, and sit at the very top of the stairs, where we could see out over the cars and people on to York Avenue. We would alternate between the stoop and the popular Kronk’s ice cream parlor, a block away on 87th Street--the stoop was more private. On any given day, there were at least 20 to 30 of us who would congregate at these places. Some came from as far as the Bronx to meet there. (I walked every day from 81st Street and 1st). For these were some of the most popular places for us to meet girls and arrange dates. A few of us had cars, but I didn’t. And the ones that did, used to take us on rides to Coney Island and Freedom Land in the Bronx, and long rides around the Belt Parkway.
Our “stoop,” had a very large decorative stone lintel about six feet wide, located at the top of the stairs high above the door, and one day, probably around 1957, the lintel came crashing down on the two railings. If you look today, you can still see the two parallel bends on the railings that were caused by the crashing stone. Luckily, we weren't sitting there at the time. Every time I pass by that building, I look over at the stoop to see if the bent railings are still there, and they still are. Seeing those bends, bring back the memories of those days, and I can still picture me and my friends sitting there.
By Bill Chefalas