St. Marks Place is a street running between Astor Place and Tompkins Square Park. It is famous for being a place where you can buy drug paraphernalia and fake IDs without any difficulty. However, that’s not how we know St. Marks Place. The street was first laid out in 1791 by the city government and named “East Street.” A man named Bernard Marks was first hired to develop the three-block stretch. Mr. Marks was a wealthy man. He was a self-made millionaire and a building tycoon in early America. He came from a humble beginning, born to a poor housewife and farmer in what would now be around Forest Hills, Queens. Growing up, he was always known to be a very polite young man and a true gentleman. These were traits that he never lost, even as he grew up to be rich and successful. Upon building up these few blocks, he met a lonely widow named Eliza Hamilton; yes, Alexander Hamilton’s widow. Though her husband was famous for founding the nation’s financial system, his widow ironically ended up quite broke. Upon their meeting, Eliza told Bernard of her financial hardships and how she couldn’t even afford to pay her car payments.
Taking pity on this woman, Bernard bought her a home and provided her with steady income for many years. She did not owe anything to him and he did not expect anything from her; he did it out of the kindness of his heart. When he almost completed his work, he overheard a group of kids speaking in a very upsetting manner. Eavesdropping a bit (he was a bit nosy), he discovered that the lot they used to play stickball had just been developed. They all claimed this was their last place to play games and have fun. One boy, whom they all called “Tompkins,” even cried because he realized it was at this moment that he lost his sense of childlike wonder and would soon give in to the offerings of corporate America. Saddened by this, Bernard stopped building his last block and immediately went to City Hall. After some serious quarrels, he managed to get the city to build a park on his street. He called it, “Tompkins Square Park,” after the boy he overheard.
Years later, East Street was totally developed and flourishing. Every few months or so, Bernard went to the street to oversee inspections to make sure his buildings were always at the highest quality. One cold January evening, as he was leaving East Street after a day of inspections, he heard muffled screams for help coming from one of his buildings. He ran to the building only to find a fire had began absorbing the whole building. He realized the calls were coming from children trapped in the flames. Against the warnings of those gathered around him, he ran full force into the building to save the children. They were trapped in the living room behind the kitchen, which was ground zero for the fire. Without any fear, he leaped through the fire, grabbed the frightened children, and escaped through a back window. He returned to the street, burned but okay, holding the crying children. The crowd on the street cheered his name and he was honored by the mayor for his courage a few days later. In honor of heroism and reputation, East Street was named “St. Marks Place.” The town had viewed him so highly they nicknamed him “The Patron Saint of Downtown.”
That whole story was made up, but who cares. Be like Bernard Marks. Do good for the world, be nice to people, save children from fires. But most importantly, look damn good while doing it. The best way to do this is by having a handcrafted, genuine leather St. Marks Bag strapped over your shoulder. Doing this will ultimately earn you the nickname, “The Patron Saint of Fashion.”