Meet The Last Pigeon Keeper in New York's East Village

On New York City’s Avenue A, an unassuming apartment building with the word “peace” sprawled above its windows is nestled in between a 7-Eleven and a hookah bar. Unbeknownst to the average pedestrian, this is the home of Anton van Dalen, a Dutch artist who has lived here since the mid ‘60s. He is also the last pigeon fancier in the East Village.

Van Dalen has been breeding pigeons since he was a child in Holland. When he immigrated with his family to Toronto in 1964, he built a coop out of the crates that his belongings had been shipped in. Nowadays, the birds reside in a homemade coop on the roof of his East Village home. (You can live stream the pigeons here.)

When he’s not nourishing his pigeons, Van Dalen is making cutouts, stencils and props that he uses to stage a theatrical performance of the East Village’s history. Stencils of bullish police, inflamed buildings and other symbols of the ‘80s riots are strewn around his studio floor. In the afternoons, Van Dalen climbs to his roof to release the pigeons, and they soar above the storied tenements -- themselves one of the last relics of the neighborhood’s vibrant history.

Watch the video above for more with van Dalen.

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