Nicholas Hernandez, The “Hunchback of Atlantic Avenue”, Dies

This note in from BHB reader Wil Smith:

I may have sent you a message earlier through your site, but am not sure it went through (tried to post onto the open thread comments section, but doesn’t appear to be there). I was hoping that you might cover the recent death of Nicholas Hernandez, the homeless man who lived at the corner of Atlantic Ave and Henry Street, and whom Lillian Ann Sluglocki wrote about on your blog in 2009 (“The Hunchback of Atlantic Avenue“). He was a constant and friendly presence for those of us who lived around him (he’s lived here for at least as long as I have), and was a big part of the South Heights community. He died on Monday outside of the New Island Deli.

Heights and Hill Funeral Home is holding a memorial service for him on Saturday from 12-3. It would be much appreciated if you could share any of this info with the Brooklyn Heights community.

Cobble Hill Blog reader Paul Zannelli wrote to us today and noted, “In the few brief conversations I had with him, I never heard him complaining about his debilitating back problems but it must have caused him a lot of discomfort as he spent most time standing hunched over.

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  • DJ

    Very sad to hear. He never had anything but a kind word for people on the block. Used to buy him coffees on my way home from the night shift. A really decent guy, I’ll miss having him as part of our Nabe.

  • brooklynite

    This is sad news. I remember when I first saw him and was amazed that he never fell over. Over the years he has become a fixture for me in the neighborhood. I will certainly miss seeing him everyday. RIP

  • bhts


  • davoyager

    Was he really homeless? He has been in this neighborhood for so many years, I thought he must have had some kind of a home. I saw that he had regular work sweeping up and thought he was OK aside from his disability. He had a dignity and strength and I didn’t know he needed help.

    Goodbye old soul.

  • bklyn20

    I think he slept in the basement of the deli on the corner of Atlantic & Henry, and maybe in the Nova Zembla across the street when it was still open. I gave him some of my late father’s clothes, and tried to buy him coffee, with little luck. He mentioned his family from time to time, but I don’t know how often he saw them.

    He liked to visit with my dogs and always asked after my daughter. The thought of not seeing him out there makes me very sad. I imagine his life must have been so very difficult, but he always had a kind word for everyone.

  • Avocado

    Nick was the sweetest person! I saw him almost every day and he always had a smile and kind words for me. He was a caring, funny, loving guy. He really brightened my day, every day.

    There will always be a special place in my heart for my Nicky Tomatoes. Atlantic and Henry will never be the same. But now my friend is finally resting in peace.

    I hope anyone who knows Nick comes on Saturday to honor him. He deserves to be remembered.

    ♥ Avocado + Tomatoes ♥

  • jmeds

    Im really devastated about this. He was the sweetest guy. I would smoke cigarettes outside the deli with hm while he would play with my dog. Always asked after her and my boyfriend. He will be seriously missed.

  • John Sic

    Nicky and I talked Mets baseball every summer and I always dreamed about taking him to a game some day. This summer won’t be the same without him out there listening to the Mets. He was one of those well-educated fans that knew the game and the players very well and had an opinion about everything associated with the Mets.

    He never asked for anything when I am sure he sometimes was in need and never complained about pain when it was clear that he was suffering.

    I will definitely be there Saturday to pay my respects to Nicky. The neighborhood will not be the same without him.

  • Wil Smith

    Thanks BHB for posting this. Everyone around here was really great with him, especially the people at Heights and Hill Funeral Home (who employed him), New Island Deli (provided him with warm drinks and a basement to sleep in), and the former Nova Zembla (who I think may have even given him keys). It’s really touching to see windows of so many storefronts on the block with information about Nick’s memorial service. New Island Deli has even made a small memorial for him on the spot where he passed away.

    A lot of us talked with Nick more frequently than with our more-traditionally housed neighbors. He’ll be sadly missed.