After spending time as a real estate developer in Denver, Colorado, longtime art collector Allan Reiver moved to New York City in 1989. By then, he had left the real estate development industry, but saw potential in a vacant lot on Little Italy’s Elizabeth Street. He leased the space from the city and went to work, planting grass and trees and installing art pieces from his collection, creating the now beloved Elizabeth Street Garden recently featured in the travel book 111 PLACES IN NEW YORK THAT YOU MUST NOT MISS. . In 2005, Allan Reiver opened the Elizabeth Street Gallery adjacent to the garden in a renovated firehouse originally built in the 1850s.
Currently, the gallery features an original shooting gallery from Coney Island. This rare piece was manufactured by W.F. Mangels Company around the turn of the century and remained hidden in its original location on Stillwell Avenue two blocks from the Boardwalk until 1992.
Until the 1930s, shooting galleries like this one used live ammunition, in this case, a .22 caliber gun with special soft bullets. When live ammunition became prohibited, the shooting gallery was simply boarded up. It survived its time being hidden quite well; it is in full working condition and most of its paint is in its original condition. It may be the only historic shooting gallery of its kind in the US.