If you walk through the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market on a sunny Saturday or Sunday seeking your next treasure or unique piece of history to take home with you, you might find a genuine treasure playing the accordion right in the middle of 39th Street. Unlike your other treasures, this is not for sale, and this piece of New York City & Hell’s Kitchen history can only be kept in your hearts and memory.
But who is this mysterious musician??? Giovanni Quartuccia; some call him the Mayor of Hell’s Kitchen. Quick with a smile and an accepting nod, he is like a grandpa to all of us. Giovanni was born in Calabritto, Italy and moved his young family to England for a short time but always knew NYC was calling him. With NYC being the historical, welcoming home of immigrants seeking new opportunity, a quick trip across the pond was what Giovanni and family did and settled right into Hell’s Kitchen in the early 60s. Giovanni and family are still deeply embedded into the community after watching many waves of neighborhood changes.
Working as a barber in the nearby Port Authority for 35 years, he cut the hair of thousands of commuters and touched many lives with his laugh, his lovely accent and stories from the old country. He is the keeper of secrets of the stories that passed through his chair and has endured the never-ending stream of construction and changes in his community, from gangs to crime, poverty to construction… and more construction. He should be called the saint of Hell’s Kitchen.
We invite you to stop by on a sunny day and listen to history through the sound of his accordion that he has played for nearly 80 years. The songs are filled with his memories and his legacy. We thank you for keeping community in the ever changing neighborhood and we are proud to know you, Mr. Quartuccia.