Built in 1908, The New Amsterdam Maritime Savings and Loan Building on the corner of 27th and Brulard Avenue has long been one of the iconic sights of Manhattan’s Tinfoil District.
After the bank folded in 1962, the building remained vacant until conceptual artist Earl “Carbide” Brookner began hosting a series elaborate installations (which he dubbed “Multi-Feelias”) in the building’s abandoned lobby in the early seventies. The structure remained a focal point for the art scene for much of the decade—most famously, Italian B-movie director Luigi Malatesta filmed his paranoiac freakout masterpiece, The Bloodletters (1972) entirely within the building. The film’s denouement, set inside the bank’s vault, in which Sylvia Zola murders her double-amputee husband by drowning him in a vat of pea soup, is particularly disturbing—Pauline Kael called it “blandly atrocious.”
As the Tinfoil District continued to decline, the building skipped back and forth from one absentee landlord to another throughout the 1980’s. Eventually, the local tennis shoe wholesale outlet Jimmy Spazz began using the upper floors as a warehouse, but the gilded age lobby remained vacant and decaying. It wasn’t until last year when the first New York branch of the Scandinavian clothing superstore Skutla moved into the building that the historic lobby was somewhat restored, albeit in the name of affordable mass-produced fashion.