simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: Secret Society
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Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Secret Society

I am fascinated by the places that are prominently located yet rarely mentioned. The plaque at 77 MacDougal Street says Tiro A Segno, New York Rifle Club. This address is just south of one of the most touristy, trafficked blocks in the city - the Figaro Cafe and Bleecker Street are within eyeshot. This very exclusive, members-only club occupies three entire brownstone row houses - 3 flags hang in front - one American, one Italian and one brandishing Tiro A Segno - which literally means "shoot the target" - (Tiros date back to eighth century Italy's bow-and-arrow groups). This is the oldest private Italian-American club in the US, founded in 1888 and in this location since 1924. And private is the operative word - you won't find much about this place - I had to really dig for this one. Visit their website and you will get the idea. Prospective members must be nominated by a current member and there is a quota on non-Italians. Members have included former mayor Fiorella Laguardia, Enrico Caruso, and Garibaldi. What goes on in there? Wine, fine dining (dining hall seats 110), conversation and rifle shooting in the basement gallery with three wood paneled ranges and a choice of targets. And charitable work is done e.g., in 2000, the Tiro a Segno foundation donated $500,000 to establish the Visiting Faculty Fellowship in Italian-American Culture at NYU. Apparently any vestiges of former members like convicted politicians Biaggi and Esposito are long gone ...


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