There used to be a French bakery called Lafayette on Bleecker Street near Seventh. It was there in plain every time you emerged from the 1 train at Christopher Street. For whatever reason, it epitomized Greenwich Village for me, and I was upset when, roughly ten years ago, it disappeared and was replaced by a Burritoville. Looking back, it's removal was one of the seminal events that made me realize the City was changing, and not for the better.
For years afterward, I'd mourn the loss every time I passed by that Burritoville. I naturally assumed it was gone forever. I shouldn't have. Yesterday, while passing down Greenwich Avenue looking for a place to buy some Halloween cookies to hand out to the kiddies, I entered a bakery I had never patronized before. I bought some pumpkin-shaped goodies and admired the ancient scale as the man behind the counter weighed my purchase. The place looked old. How old? 80 years, said the garrulous guy serving me. It's a family business. His grandfather started it. Then he went into this long, convoluted story about the unreasonable demands of his erstwhile landlords and how he was happier in the new location.
And I suddenly realized: this was the Lafayette Bakery that was once on Bleeker. It hadn't perished from the earth. It had relocated. Sometimes New York has pleasant surprises tucked up its otherwise dark and terrifying sleeve.