28 March 2006

Garage Sale

I've passed by the Tunnel Garage on the corner of Broome and Thompson streets many times and thought it a nice bit of Art Deco, about as architecturally interesting as a parking garage can be. Almost charming. Little did I, or anyone else, know that the best part of the building was hiding under a round "24 hr. Parking" sign perched at the top of the structure. That sign was removed recently because the building has been sold and is coming down. Hiding under it, as a March 28 New York Times article reports, was a beguiling terra-cotta medallion, showing the front end of a Model T. The garage was built in 1927, when Model Ts were still prevalent.

Local historians are trying to save the building, but seems to be settling for the more realistic goal of saving the medallion, which is certainly a one of a kind bit of decoration. The new owner seems inclined to help, though wonders if the cracked circle will survive the attempt.

My question is: Why was it covered with that worthless sign for decades in the first place? Or, more broadly, what the fuck is wrong with people? You own a kind-of-interesting building. Sure, you're in the parking biz, so aesthetic matters are not your strong suit. Maybe you're a barbarian, in fact. But, surely, upon seeing a multi-colored, terra-cotta doohicky on top of your garage, you'd ooh and ahh and be struck by its novelty and maybe even its beauty. Wouldn't you showcase it, let the world see it? Or, at least, keep your ratty, workaday "24 hr. Parking" sign the hell off of it? Why do businesses make their ugly buildings even uglier by wallpapering them with garish signs that scream "I'm an eyesore that blights the street, but I don't care as long as I sell one more wingnut!"

Another question: Why don't developers incorporate things like that medallion into their buildings anymore? Why doesn't it even occur to them to build a structure they'd be proud of, or at least that the public wouldn't cringe at? (Yes, I know the answer, and it's not good enough.)

One last thing. Guess what will replace the garage once it's gone? You have five seconds. If you didn't say apartment building, you're a dumb fuck who doesn't know that every building in Manhattan is being torn down one by one to make way for faceless, Soviet Bloc-like housing, housing, housing. Let's hope those next tenants don't own cars, 'cause there'll be no place to park 'em.

1 comment:

kurt said...

Now maybe I -- as a typically beaten down and slump-shouldered New Yorker, who doesn't even bother to look at buildings because he knows it would just crush his soul to a finer grain of dust -- don't mind being called a "dumb fuck" for being a little slow (and it was just laziness; I knew the answer was coming up), but you can BET your [rear end] that Susie and Harry from Peoria will be turned off! If you want to keep them on your side, and make sure that the medallion, the Carlyle banquets and all the rest get at least a proper burial at some sickening theme diner on 57th St., you must clean up your language, sir!