Here's a Percy Loomis Sperr photo of this part of Fifth in 1941 (NYPL Digital Collections)
It's a little hard to make out (the resolution's better in the link), but you can see the Alp Tavern (with a sign for a Harlem Revue), a shoe repair store, luncheonettes, a liquor store, & Michael's at 13th. Above So. Brooklyn Carpets, brides gaze out from the windows of the photo studio. On the side of 557, Children Cry for Chas. H. Fletcher's Castoria. The Please erotica store (bondage, anyone?) occupies the 557 ground floor today. The 555 corner (soon to be a Crunch gym) has signs for ice cream, luncheons and sandwiches.
In somewhat related news, I'm happy to announce that the store cat at 542 Fifth has found a new home.