12 June 2010

Goodbye to All That


Dear Readers:

I am ending Lost City. Most of the City is lost after all—the good parts, anyway—so you could say the course of history has put me out of a job. Ironically, the kinds of news that fills up a jeremiad like this will, if too constant and voluminous, eventually puts the enterprise out of business. It's like writing a volcano report from Pompeii; you know the communiques are going to end sometime.

I began the blog because I was incensed and alarmed at what the city was becoming. It was losing its grit, its fabric, its very character. It was losing its New York-ness, and gaining nothing but Subway franchises and luxury condos. Since none of my editors would let me write about it, I became my own editor. I was gratified to soon find that there were a lot of people out there who felt the way I did. And it wasn't too long before there were other bloggers who took on a similar mission, like Jeremiah Moss at Vanishing New York and EV Grieve at the blog of the same name. Taken together, we made for quite a few howls in the wilderness. And, tragically, we never ran out of things to report.

But, in the end, they were just howls, as ineffective at Lear's on the heath. I wrote thousands of words, and posted hundreds of pictures for four-and-a-half years—nearly 3,000 posts, all told. None of them made any difference. Not really. The press paid a little attention to our windmill-tilting, but City Hall never did. The City continued on its inexorable march to glossy mediocrity. Bloomberg, the billionaire, city planner Amanda Burden, the millionaire, and their cabal of equally wealthy real estate and Wall Street pals forged ahead and got the metropolis they wanted all along: homogenous, anodyne, whitewashed, suburban, toothless, chain-store-ridden, ordinary, exclusive and terribly, terribly expensive. A town for tourists and the upper 2%. He took a world-class capital of culture, individuality and independent endeavor and turned it into the smoothest, first-class, gated community Houston ever saw. Walk down Broadway on the Upper West Side, Sixth Avenue in Chelsea, Third Avenue in Yorkville—or look at the gaping hole of Atlantic Yards—and you will see the administration's legacy.

It is still inconceivable to me that New York could have (and elect, and "elect") a mayor who witnessed the extinction of such irreplaceable city landmarks—Chumley's, Gino, Gage & Tollner, Cafe Des Artistes, Manny's, Astroland, The Green Church, Cedar Tavern, Gertel's Bakery, CBGB's, Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium and countless other institutions—and never uttered a peep. No comment, no stump speech, no recognition of what was passing into history on his watch. Not even lip service. He stood by and watched Coney Island, one of the most iconic neighborhoods in New York, utterly destroyed. He never saw the value of what was vanishing.

I'm proud of Lost City. As a writer, it's the purest and most idealistic thing I've ever done. It may not have saved a single building, or prevented a single piece of luxury crapitecture. But I know it occasionally caused discomfort to the powers that be, and that it alerted some readers to a few of the City's treasures. For that alone, it was worth it.

Still the blog has always taken a vast amount of time, hours upon hours each week, and it doesn't pay any bills. I'm tired and discouraged, and I don't relish hanging around just to record the last few living landmarks as they fall in this barren forest, making no sound that the City Fathers can hear. Nor do I much enjoy scouring the street looking for vestiges of the city I loved, vestiges that are harder and harder to find. Our "third-term" mayor has three more years to go; he's not going to ever see the light and things aren't going to get better.

I will use the time I put into Lost City on more lucrative ventures. It makes me sad to say that, but it's an imperative. I moved into Carroll Gardens 16 years ago. It was affordable, middle-class and wonderfully diverse. But it has been cruelly proved to me over and over in recent years that, today, I would not have a hope in hell of entering it without an annual net worth of $200,000 and a sterling credit rating. Like so many areas in New York that were once open to people of all incomes, races and professions, it has been "monetized."

I will also start reading books again, something that's been very hard to do the past five years. There was always an urgent item to post.

I will continue to write the "Who Goes There?" column for Eater, which runs every couple weeks, as I enjoy the series (even as the eateries quickly fold in my wake). I will also leave Lost City here floating in cyberspace for whoever wants to take a painful trip down the potholed memory lane of the City's inexorable losses. I may post an occasional item citing a particularly grievous loss to the burg.

Before I go, I'd like to thank the following fellow bloggers, who have always supported me with linkage, kind words and otherwise: Lockhart, Ben, Amanda, Elizabeth and Joey at Curbed/Eater/Racked; the folks at Gothamist; Jonathan at Brownstoner; Queens Crapper at Queens Crap; Jeremiah at Vanishing New York; EV Grieve at EV Grieve; Katia at Pardon Me for Asking; Kurt at Restless; Ken Mac at Greenwich Village Daily Photo; the folks at City Room; Kevin at Forgotten New York; and the late, great Bob Guskind of Gowanus Lounge. (If I forgot anybody, I'm sorry.) A fond thank you to the children and grandchildren of long gone New York businesses who reached out to me over the years. Some even sent me momentos from the past. I'd also like to thank the many readers who have regularly left their thoughtful, insightful and sometimes angry comments. I didn't mind people being angry. I was angry, too. Still am, though more often just mournful these days.

If anyone out there feels like quietly continuing to fight the good fight, take a look at the "Lost City List" below. Patronize those places. Let them know they're wanted and needed.

I wrote this farewell from top to bottom in one go, or, as a friend once said, "Obviously, this letter was written, not composed." I could polish it up, but I doesn't seem appropriate.

Sincerest Regards,

Brooks

128 comments:

Maria said...

Brooks, a job well done! [[slow clapping]] You will be missed.

Someone Said said...

I will miss the work you put into this and will continue to enjoy your "Who Eats There" column.

From Columbus, I wish you well.

Than said...

I've been following your blog for a few months now - I've really enjoyed it. I'm not a New Yorker - just one of those Connecticut people who pay homage. Reading your epitaph I'm reminded of what EB White wrote in the late 40s -

"There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter--the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something."

It seems to me people no longer need to come to the city to find whatever it was they were looking for; those expectations created by a thousand television shows and movies have made it "everyone's hometown" as you've said, and in many ways, it's lost the "steady, irresistible charm" the first sort of New Yorker is sure to remember. When the originality is gone, what they'll find instead is a thousand copies of Uniformity, USA's neighborhoods, business districts, and recreational spots.

Anyway, I hope you'll return to writing about this someday, in the mean time, best wishes from a fan.

brad said...

I live in Shelton, Washington and have enjoyed your stuff since almost the beginning, when I come to Brooklyn I usually stay just off the BQE on Warren St, so always love your neighborhood postsas these were places I had been, your blog in general has always been informative and critically spot on, I wish you and your family the best-BRAD

Elizabeth said...

Bravo Lost City!
It has been a wonderful 4.5 year run and it will be sorely missed.
Thank you Brooks

PS-What I am gonna read now?

John M said...

You've done a hell of a job. Two things that won't be of any consolation, but maybe you should note. The first is that everything you've written about our city has been happening in cities all over the country, even to some degree in Europe. This has not been a New York-centric, Bloomberg-caused phenomenon, although God knows it feels like it when you live here. This is the product of the loose money policy of the Fed, the credit boom, the real estate boom that it created...and it has reached deep into American 'culture'.

I'm reminded of the famous New Yorker cover when I think of how we feel about what's happened to the city in the past 10-15 years. There's the Hudson and Jersey and then somewhere else before you reach LA. But all you have to do is turn on the TV and watch all of the smarmy reality shows and psuedo-celebrity celebrations of vapidity, superficiality and stupidity to see that it's all of a piece. The suburbanization of NYC is sadly only a local piece of a larger cultural trend.

The second, poor-consolation thing to consider is that it's all coming to an end. Believe it or not, this horrid, stupid, cringeworthy episode in our history is dying before our eyes as the credit bubble bursts in slow motion around the world. In a further 'believe it or not', your resignation, frustration and abandonment of this blog are a signal of the latter. Our loss of your observations and righteous rants is like a capitulation sell at the bottom of the stock market. It's a sign that, as Sgt. Pepper's band once said, 'we're getting very near the end'.

We've suffered our greatest losses already. The businesses and buildings and neighborhoods that are now gone will be pretty much it. The empty lots that won't see the ugly new highrises once planned for them will become the beginning of the new moonscapes that will eventually take shape as the economic pendulum swings to the other extreme.

And 30 years from now, the few transplants who came here during the Carrie years and stayed through it all will look back and say, 'Man, this was a really great, fun, interesting city back when I came here.' And they'll cry over their own losses.

Then they'll finally understand how we felt. Godspeed, Brooks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog. I hope you continue the walking tours, which at least generate income for you. I will go on one once our schedules match.

Ed said...

One thing I find hopeful about New York is, because of the landmarks law, the physical destruction of the Bloomberg era has been limited. Much of the city still looks the same as it was when I grew up. Its sad that architecture is incapable of coming up with much better than the "spaceship buildings" (the buildings, scattered around various Manhattan neighborhoods, that look like the spaceships the aliens landed in before they took over the city), but these can be torn down later.

What has happened is that the wonderfully eccentric people that took root here in previous decades has been forced out by high rents or marginalized, and been replaced by a toxic combination of wealthy American suburbanites at the top -the same people who ruined lots of other American cities, mostly in the Midwest- and immigrants from the developing world at the bottom. But since the buildings have remained while the population was changed, there is hope that the population will change again. Maybe someday the immigrants will find their voice. It would be must harder to reverse the loss of the buildings.

I think that the changes we have seen in the last ten years are permanent enough, however, that they will last for decades. This means they will probably last for my lifetime. Also, New York's role in the wider world is now purely negative -its the place that produces the financial products that have wrecked the world economy! Its not been a manufacturing city for decades, and no longer produces much in the way of culture.

So my intention when I can find a job elsewhere (this will likely take awhile, given the recession). In the meantime I look for a few places agreeable enough to pass the time in, that are somewhat different from the rest of the city. I did the same thing when I lived for awhile in a declining city in the Midwest. The problem here is that when I find a place I like, it tends to close in a few years.

Michele said...

Thank you for caring enough for the original NYC! It would be awesome to have a book of these lost institutions that stir great memories in us all. I know I would buy a copy!!!

Kurt said...

When I saw you were "looking for the exit" on that post the other day," I worried this was coming. I felt sad (and a little sick and lonely) for myself and this city.

But the way you put it -- in this incredibly eloquent, honest, and generous letter -- makes perfect sense. (In fact, if I get crushed under condo scaffolding someday soon, please just re-read your letter with the details changed, to make it sound like I was half as noble as Lost City.) There's only so much poison a person can take -- only so many plastic condos you can stand to be surrounded by -- before it seeps in and destroys you.

I just want to thank you for Lost City, Brooks, and wish the man behind the mask (or under the hat) all the best, and hope he flourishes and is rewarded for everything else he does in the years to come.

Ellie said...

I've only been reading/following your blog for a short time, but I've enjoyed your posts. As a Brooklyn born girl who moved out 20 years ago, it saddens me to see what's become of our beloved city. I used to come back every few years, and find that more and more of what I loved was gone. Especially under the city's current administration.

I remember a time when apartments in Greenpoint used go for 350-400 a month. Now I see that those same apartments are going for a couple grand, and I recently saw a loft in Williamsburg going for over 5,000. It saddens me that I could never afford to move back now. And if things keep going the way they are, the apartments like those I grew up in may be gone one day too. Only to be replaced by those crappy condos they insist on building.

I will miss your posts. I wish you well in your future endeavors.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Brooks, you inspired me to begin and I'll miss Lost City. This is very sad news. Though I understand the feelings--the futility, the time away from books and other things.

Recently Bob Arihood, and now you. We're losing our important chroniclers.

I guess we will have to add Lost City to the sad tally of New York's dead this year. Best of luck to you, whatever you do. And your final post is spot on.

L'Emmerdeur said...

Farewell, and thank you.

I'm of the opinion that the shuttering of blogs such as yours might be a leading indicator that, combined with the impending bankruptcy of New York (and every other municipality and government on the planet) things are about to take a big turn, not all of it pretty, and quite a bit of it painful. In a few years with some luck, folks might be spending more time talking to each other and reading books and less time on iPads they can no longer afford.

Maybe just wishful thinking...

If anything, the passing of many blogs such as yours might slowly send another signal out to those who wish to move here that perhaps their money and efforts are better spent elsewhere.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

There no longer is a "New York," the city has lost its grit a long time ago. I was very fortunate to have been born early 1949, being able to grow up when New York was New York, and not no phony fabrication, the way it has become. Thanks a great deal for making it alive for a little while. You will be missed.

Mick

http://www.MykolaDementiuk.com
Lambda Awards Winner 2010/Bisexual Fiction for Holy Communion
http://www.HolyCommunionANovel.com

Ryan said...

That sucks. I hope you get bored enough to return to it as someone has to keep track of what the greedheads are up to. And good luck.

MissMamaDay said...

Noooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Craziest Gadgets Jeff said...

thanks for all the great posts.

i would counter that you actually ARE SAVING all these interesting old bits of NYC. you are saving them digitally, which while far from ideal, is sometimes unfortunately the best that can be done.

i would encourage you to simply switch this to a photo blog with less emotionally vested for yourself- put up the pics and let the commenters take over- because you are chronicling the minutiae of architecture that nobody else is.

sites like this are the record of nyc. there's 1000000 pictures of the empire state building but how many pictures are there of that neighborhood place that you go to all the time and now it's closing down? i hope you reconsider in some way but if not you will be missed.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Thanks for all the kind words, people. I'll miss conversing with you all.

Jeff, I have considered just doing photos. Maybe in the future. We'll see.

Andy said...

Thank you for all your hard, detailed, and incredibly observant work. It breaks my heart to see you close up shop, but I understand. Good luck with whatever you choose to do in the future: you have a good heart, a kind & true soul, and a keen mind & eye. And it shows.

marla said...

Thank you and I will miss your blogs!

Sally Miller said...

I have enjoyed your blog entries and pictures over the past years, and commend you for a job well done. John M. got it right: it is happening all over the country. You, however, chronicled it so well for NY, and I do hope you put it all into a book. Thanks!
Sally Miller

Barry McMahon said...

My first visit to your blog is your letter of departure. Thanks for leaving the boat docked. I'll climb on board and explore the hold. Sorry I missed you. Best of luck.

Linds said...

Brooks,

I cannot put into words how much your blog has meant to me and the other new yorkers who mourn the continuing death of New York City. Your words have reached many and they have immortalized institutions that now exist only by pictures, words and memories you have shared.

Thank you for everything, this is surely a sad day and this Lost City is truly lost without you.

Good luck in all of your endeavors

Josh Weinberger said...

Thank you for everything — the time, the passion, the indignation, the persistence (yes, that, even as we say goodbye).

Your posts, in a sense, have always been farewells - it's a testament to you that this one is just as poignant, and as lovely, and as memorable, as all the others, perhaps more so.

Best of luck in whatever follows.
j.

Jill said...

I am very sorry to see you stop, but understand completely what a time suck doing this is. I'm constantly amazed at how you, and the other NY bloggers, manage to come up with so many interesting posts, while also doing something remunerative.

A lot of work for little reward. I hope you will continue to post occasionally, when your heart calls for it.

Dan said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the great service you've done to this city. You were at the vanguard of this current wave of realization that what makes NY great is dying, and your posts have at least preserved them in the ether.

You've been an inspiration to countless writers, and all I can say is that is you were mayor, this would be a much better city.

Thanks again Brooks. You care!

Dan

FantasticBabblings said...

Thanks for all the work you put into this project. Reading your blog reminded me of places I had forgotten, got me to go to places I hadn't been in a long time and informed me about places I never knew about. I'll retire in a couple of years and leave New York after living here for 35 years. The part of the city I will miss is about gone anyway. I won't miss what's here now. But I will miss your blog.

Good luck in whatever you do next.

Lisanne said...

You will be truely missed. Another great thing lost in NYC. Best of luck to you.

electronic396 said...

Brooks.The past years i was searching for a blog about NYC.Not because i'am from new york,but because i wanted to learn more about this glorious city.One of my favorite discoveries was yours.I've never been to the big apple...but i always loved your photos and they way you were describing the city.
From the distant Greece i wish you all the best and thank you for all these great memories:)
Good bye and good luck:)

David Dust said...

Thank you for Lost City - it is a gift that will not be soon forgotten.

Lisanne! said...

You have created a most impressive body of work over the last four years. I understand and sympathize with your reasons, and wish you well.

We shall carry on your work in our own way, even if it does seem so often to be executed in vain. And should you decide a later to date to resume we shall welcome your return with much gladness.

Nobody's Wife said...

My most recent post at Our Lady of Vilnius, NYC is titled "Is everything that I value going extinct?" You leaving the beat makes the answer to this more clearly and sadly "Yes." Thank you very much for bearing witness and understanding that attention must be paid.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot Brooks, I will write you
if Bloomy & Co.ever take out our should be landmarked Tin Pan Alley.

Now who am I gonna give tips to?,lol

Enjoy your respite from Lost NY.

Mike of Tin Pan Alley

blank said...

I'm no lover of the banks and the franchises, but it's just wrong to pin it on public officials. They didn't make what was good before and they didn't make what is good now. If you want kooky old joints become a landlord and choose between 5000/month and 1000/month. The crime of zoning in Downtown Brooklyn was committed in the 60s. Under Bloomberg those crimes were reversed.

I've enjoyed your work, it's a beautiful record.

Brooklynbee said...

I've really enjoyed your blog. As a not really THAT old yet, but lifelong NYer, I appreciate and seek out little bits of 'old NY' whenever I can. My husband and I have lived close to your neck of the woods in Brooklyn for about a decade, and we love it - little things like Mazzola, Sahadi's etc. make it so much more bearable than Manhattan - but we too are feeling priced out as we need bigger living space.

EV Grieve said...

Wow. Well, I understand too Brooks, as Jeremiah Moss said earlier... you were part of my inspiration to start my site a few years back... I appreciate your love of old New York... I wish more people here shared your love and enthusiasm of all things past and present here... I look forward to your work on Eater and elsewhere... and knowing that this will always be here for our reference...

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Brooks,
I have followed your blog every day since I first came across it. I can understand your decision to end things, but am really sad. You have done a valiant service to the city, & will be missed terribly. Good luck.

tthrash said...

Like others, sorry to learn this. I found this blog quite recently when looking up the name of a restaurant that my grandparents worked at when moving from PA to NY in the 1930s. A number of my grandmothers siblings worked there too, and it was so cool to see your pictures of what is left of the place. I also just got around to adding a blog reader, which is why I returned to your blog just now--I was going to add a subscription...day late, dollar short for me. I look forward to reading through the rest of your posts just the same.
Thanks for your efforts!

Ken Mac said...

i am away and just saw this. Damn Broooks!! You've inspired me ever since I started my blog. You've been a beacon, a comrade. But you're right. The fight is over. I can't even find things to photograph anymore. I go further and further out in the boroughs often find nothing of olde New York, the real New York we cherish. But I can't believe you're going. It's just another nail in the coffin of New York. Will you PLEASE leave the site up so we can peruse the archives?

Ken Mac said...

Yes! just do photos if that keeps you interested. We could travel the badlands together. I am serious.

Helcat said...

Aw man. So sorry to see you go.
Thanks for leaving the site up though. I consider it a depressing but valuable resource.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

The blog archive will remain up, Ken Mac. I certainly have no intention of deleting any of it.

Anonymous said...

I do not follow many blogs, but your posts have been beautiful homages (in words and photos) to all things wonderful and disappearing in New York. I was hooked from my first read over a year ago and will miss the expectant curiosity I felt every time I clicked on this favorite link. Thank you for this blog and the time and energy that you put into it! I wish you all the best.

Mils said...

Thank you! Merci brooks for your blog. I really enjoyed it. I arrived here in NY for almost 4 years and yes I can say I'm a gentrification and change witness.
All the best

mils

Lily Hydrangea said...

just found you from Ken Mac's blog. I'm grateful you will keep your blog in cyberspace so I can visit it over time & read all of what you wrote about here.
I lived in Greenwich Village many years ago & I too can not believe how things have changed for the worse. every time I visit Manhattan I seem to find something else that is missing. It is very sad.
In the meantime thank you for your work & I wish you well.

vivvy said...

Thank you so much for all your work. I've greatly enjoyed reading this blog, and I'm glad you're going to keep it online as a record of what has been lost. You will be missed, as will NYC itself.

NYC taxi photo said...

sad to see the blog go. I was going to say, no don't go.. etc.. etc.. but i understand how it must be. I sent a link to your last post over to the tips for taxi drivers blog i co-author, as it is must know list that all drivers should familiarize themselves with. it's too bad that this genuine blog about the remaining pieces of city history still living and breathing will no longer pump vital information out. I wish you well dude.

Aline Bernstein said...

I grew up in the suburbs (Westchester) in the 70s when the city was close to its gritty best/worst. Over the years I was aware of the slow changes, but I always thought everything would be there for me to explore "later." Now it is later, and too late. I am grateful to you for putting up this history so I can see what I missed.

diehipster said...

Great yet sad last post.

As much as NYC's current administration is to blame, so are the people who eat it up. The hipsters. I don't care if anyone agrees or disagrees with me. However consider this, it takes naive lemmings to get the rest of the flock to come over and ruin things. No long time NY residents or newly arrived immigrants have ever fallen prey to greedy land lords and pretentious store and restaurant owners like the hipsters have. And so, starts the snowball effect of the last 10 years. Isn't it a coincidence that all the sadness that we all currently feel started with the overwhelming arrival of these never to be known, narcissistic, self proclaimed "creative types" that have produced absolutely nothing substantial. The only thing they've accomplished is making us angry and sad.

But hey... I'm pretty sure I'm crazy and delusional to most of you.

http://www.diehipster.com

photodudeimages said...

I'm sorry to see you stop posting. I enjoyed the history and the photos you shared. I will be honest and say that your anger was often over the top and maybe stepping away is a good thing for you personally. Best of luck to you.

mingusal said...

Thanks Brooks. You really fought the good fight and many of us out here truly appreciate it. I didn't always agree with you, but I did most of the time and I always understood that the driving force for all of your opinions here was your love of this city - or at least of the real, urban, tough, sweet, livable human city that preceded it in this space. The same city I loved, and love.

Good fortune in all of your future endeavors.

Theodore said...

Brooks-

Just wanted to echo the sentiments of everyone else above. For years "Lost City" has been my favorite NYC blog and a font of great history and sentiment about the city that I love. You will be missed. A heartfelt "thank you" to you.

BrooksNYC said...

We've all known for a while that this was a losing battle — that mounting losses would reach critical mass, and that one day, an old city that we knew and loved would be gone. I well understand your reasons for closing shop, and it makes these sad days even sadder.

Thanks for documenting the long farewell. I loved this blog. It, and you, will be missed.

Wishing you happiness and good fortune.

Brooks (the other Brooks)

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Nice to see here all the commenter names that became so familiar to me over the years. Always enjoyed seeing comments from all of you.

Anonymous said...

Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peter said...

Brooks, best wishes. Thanks for all the hard work you put into this site.

robert said...

Godspeed Brooks
I work on 35th st between 8th and
9th. This morning, like a harbinger
of doom, there was a small pick up
truck parked outside the workplace,
in the back was tied down the green
Ginos Restaurant sign.
I begin every day by checking your
blog, and I read the sad news.
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore"

MartinD28 said...

Thank you so much for bringing this wonderful thing into our lives...

Mary said...

A job well done and will sadly join those things I miss in NYC. Thank you.
Mary

thoughtfulplate said...

Thanks for your incessant effort to keep our city alive. It's sad that our voices aren't always heard in the political arena, but if nobody EVER speak up, then there's no hope at all.

I thoroughly enjoy your "Who Goes There?" column. Perhaps this break would nurture some of your other literary desires. Cheers to you Brooke.

RonF. said...

I'm really sorry to hear that you are shutting down. Congratulations on a job well done, and thank you for all your wonderful posts over the years. You will be missed.

East Village Feed said...

Long time reader - sad to see it all end. Thanks for all your hard work over the years.

- EVF

LP640 said...

You are all idiots.

The "Original NYC" is poor, filthy, disgusting, dangerous slum.

The new New York is all about wealth and a higher standard for everything.

Sorry NYC isn't catering to your low-standards. I'm pretty sure Detroit and Cleveland has what you're looking for.

Toodles!

Mr. Lee said...

Sad to see the blog go... Really enjoyed it!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you- and I will miss this blog.
Greetings from Stuttgart, Germany

Bryan said...

Hi, Brooks. For what it's worth, I don't think the work you've done here is in vain at all -- from your deeply serious opposition to Bloomberg to the Carroll Gardens Basil Wars, this blog has inspired and entertained and has been an important part of my virtual and on-the-ground New York. I'll deeply miss your voice here. There will be a big hole in my imaginary Brooklyn!

Will you continue to write for other blogs? How will we know who goes to all those little places we always wondered about?

Best wishes -- & a welcome return if you ever change your mind.

bw

esquared said...

well, like you said, there isn't really not much left being lost in the city, unless you decide to blog about the lost of a starbucks, duane reade, a glass condo, or a bank.

thanks for everything, and good luck on your next venture, nonetheless.

Mary said...

You will be missed, most definitely! And many thanks for all the hard work you put into this for so long. It remains a favorite of mine.

Some Assembly Required said...

Let me add my voice to the many others offering their thanks for your efforts. I'm not a New York resident, but both sides of my family were New Yorkers before they moved elsewhere, and my mother was born (at home) in the Bronx in 1939.

I visit as often as I can, and Lost City has helped me to a deeper understanding of what the city was like when my grandparents lived and worked there decades ago, and pointed me toward surviving remnants of its past.

Breukelen9999 said...

Brooks: I echo all the comments expressing appreciation. I've always enjoyed your writing, and even when angry you were always humorous and engaging. I also understand your frustration, but I do believe you have raised the visibility of NYC's culture, character and particularly the importance of small business, and though it's easy to get demoralized by what has gone, not all is lost. In Carroll Gardens, there's still D'Amico's, Court Pastry, Sal's, Scotto's Wines, community institutions like Raccuglia's and Guido's funeral homes, Marco Polo, Joe's Restaurant, Monteleone's, Esposito's and many more. Fewer than there used to be, but even if the glass is only a quarter full, we can treasure (and patronize) what we have.

I look forward to reading your Eater column but also hope you'll have opportunities to write about more than food.

sofia said...

Please change your mind

Anonymous said...

Too sad. Please make a book out of all this. Thank you...

Upstate Johnny G said...

Ah-h-h-h-h-h Brooksie, Brooksie I'm so sorry to see this day come. Your blog was on my top picks page on my macbook and I always read it first....even before my email. Still I can understand your feelings of frustration. I recently had a discussion that almost turned into a shouting match with a young executive who can't wait to see brooklyn covered with 100 story glass towers. He seems to hate everything about a city that makes it a city....the chaos, the grit, the diversity of income levels, races, colors, creeds, etc. Sadly I think that there are too many who are of his ilk even though not as radical. It's my belief that our age of instant communication via cell phone, instant research via the web, and instant gratification have joined with the belief that rapid obsolescence is a desirable cultural norm to foster an almost total lack of interest in history of any kind. Along with this there is a tendency to equate "new" with "better". There is then no value to "the old" city. Only to the New. Still, I enjoyed the gazooks out of your blog and always managed to find in it some little piece of NYC that I never knew existed.

Brooks, you will be sorely missed. Your need to earn simolians and take care of your family must come first and so as much as I would like to beg you to continue the blog, threaten to hold my breath until I turn blue if you don't relent, etc, how selfish would that be on my part? No, walk away proudly and take care of yourself and your own. We'll all be here if you want to come back, but if you don't that's okay. We'll miss you but we want what's best for you.

"Brooks of Sheffield"......man that threw me for a long time. Sure I could have googled it but what fun would that have been? Better in my mind to just keep bouncing around the world and lo and behold "something may just turn up." And in due course I picked up the complete and unabridged version of a particular tome and well...there you were. And so, Trotwood......David.......Brooks of Sheffield......thanks so much for educating, entertaining, and inspiring me, and fair play to you in all of your endeavors. Perhaps we'll meet over a pint one day.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

thanks, guys. Don't worry. I'll have plenty of writing opportunities. It's my job. I write articles all day. And there may be a book. Anything could happen.

Anonymous said...

Cheers, my friend Cheers.

You were the David without the slingshot.

Peace.

enodo said...

I am crushed. I read this blog every single day. It is one of my absolute favorites. City Hall may not care what is going on in the city, but I do.

I hope you get bored of whatever it is you're planning to do and come back to this some day. If you ever want to charge a subscription, I'll be first in line.

Andrew said...

Thank you so much for your honest, heartfelt words. I have become a big fan, and will miss the site tremendously. Best of luck to you.

Baroness V.O. said...

The new talking bus chirped "Welcome to New York City" this morning.

Yes, welcome tourists.

Sigh.

See you at the bar, Brooks.

Bryan said...

"I will continue to write the "Who Goes There?" column for Eater, which runs every couple weeks, as I enjoy the series"

Obviously I missed that the first time I commented. Glad we'll still see your nom de internet still floating around out there.

And yes -- by all means, a book!

Carol Gardens said...

Hey, it figures that something this momentous would happen when I was out of town and then with no DSL. Well, thanks from the Carroll Gardens library wifi. Your blog always reminded me of what I DO love and have always loved about this city. There are (obviously) still great, inspiring and interesting people here. We have lost so many beloved institution but I hope we can all continue to share our favorite people, places, and NYC things on other forums and even face-to-face. Good luck with everything!

will hauff said...

I began reading Lost City because what you write about is happening here in Toronto. Beautiful old homes that are too expensive to build today are shuttered up waiting for the inevitable condo to rise up and destroy them. Every part of the city is beginning to look the same and the sense of mystery and discovery is gone. Places I remember only 20 years ago are razed to the ground. The way I see it there are always more people who love money and find "development" a beautiful thing than there are real lovers of mystery, romance and poetry. You really can't fight progress.

SJF said...

I'll miss reading your blog posts, but I understand how much time something like this can take out of one's day. It was nice meeting you and watching you solve, with the help of others, the mystery of Brook's Restaurant in LIC.

JO said...

Thanks for everything you've written about. It did not go on deaf ears.
Just the other day when I was reading the VV article about Thor and Coney Island, I was feeling the same helplessness. It only takes one bulldozer, legally or not, right or unjust, to destroy 100 years of character and culture. It takes one blind man (not paterson, it's a metaphor) to ruin hundreds of thousands of peoples nostalgia and feeling of belonging to where they live.

I agree that just writing will barely have an effect. These exposes in the papers are written then are disregarded. People set up protests behind police barriers designed to keep them in line and out of the way. It's us behind bars. And every person who lets themselves be barricaded and doesn't say Fuck You is doing an injustice to generations of our families who grew up here. I personally am cherishing the downfall in the economy and a shut down of government. This might be the only thing tying developers's hands behind their backs. Bloomberg is not a New Yorker. He is a Bostonian. He will never be one of us.

David Freeland said...

Dear Brooks,

We will miss Lost City very much. You should definitely do a book.

Kind regards,
David

Anonymous said...

Perhaps after a good rest you might
reconsider and redesign Lost City
to allow you more time yet still
write about our lost city and
narrow it down a bit for your sanity.

Elisa Peimer said...

I've been reading your blog for years - one of the few blogs that I've returned to regularly. Thank you for pointing out all of the wonderful things about New York - even if they're things that are about to disappear. I love this city, and love finding people who realize what makes this place different from any other place on earth. Thank you for being one of those people.

Marco said...

Brooks, I will miss your style and devotion to the city of New York.

Jack R said...

Just a note to say thanks from a long time reader/lurker who found you googling gertls bakery, and saw the McHales sign that used to be prominent on top of the front page of the blog.

Used to eat there with some frequency in the late 80's.

Very sorry that it's gone.

Be well. Thanks for the memories

Liz Larkin said...

Good luck to you, Brooks. I wasn't a regular reader, but stumbled upon your blog when searching for info on Danny's Hideaway, a place where my dad worked in the 50's. Thanks for leaving the blog up - I'll be reading your past entries.

Anonymous said...

As a moderate libertarian, free market type I have really enjoyed this blog. I think governments and private interests are equally to blame for the devolved-suburbia that has taken root in New York.

I also think there are economic forces that are beyond our control which have a HUGE effect on New York and its' evolution. For instance, when the city was at its' lowest point economically in the late 70's, it was also most ripe for positive cultural change due to the depressed rents. Now that this new era of wealth is upon us, the wrong kinds of people are attracted to the city.

There is not much we can do about it. I dont think seeding power to the Nimby's is a panacea either. Cities have to evolve and sometimes their evolution is not always something that we will be enthralled with. However, what we can prevent is the unholy matrimony between crappy developers and heavy handed city planners.

Melanie said...

I miss you already. The closing of Gage & Tollner in particular made me feel a great loss. Love your blog. Great effort and writing.
Will read Lost City from time to time..it is very informative and the historical backgrounds are important to preserve. Thanks again.

Melanie said...

I love Eater too!! I am a foodie.

schmerl said...

HI, "Brooks," This is Your Wife, Sarah.
I am proud of all your hard work. Even though I often complained of the time it took. I got you your first (two) cameras, remember? And all those nights of nagging you to not stay up late...
I want to ask your readers a question, so go and fix yourself a sandwich in the kitchen or something, and just greenlight this comment, OK?

Head's Up, Readers: I can't stand idle and let this happen. One or two of you might be—I don't know—a marketing person, a p.r. person, a person with a line to a Sponsor or who knows what? I don't even know the terminology; but what I do know is that lots of people don't mind selling out, just a little, to keep their endeavor afloat, and that "Brooks" has integrity,and shouldn't suffer for it (I know he's cringing reading this). My opinion is: I would rather see Lost City monetized or whatever you call it than shot in the head. Or at least know where some aspect of it can thrive$$-wise. Write Brooks privately if you are a bigwig or know a bigwig or have a really generous idea, and my many thanx in advance for your time.

P.S. I have long asked "Brooks" to come out with his real name. No dice. Our son thinks it is funny.

Sarah

Matthew said...

Wow, this is the saddest thing in my Google Reader after a month away from New York (Cobble Hill, represent!) and the Internet.

Brooks, despite what you see as a lack of efficacy I think you accomplished a great deal here. More than you may realize, in fact.

I am a 26 year-old, born and bred native of the rough and tumble Upper West Side, now residing in fabulous South Brooklyn. This blog has taught me so much about our city, and brought me to places I never would have known to explore. It's helped me understand my neighborhood and my surroundings, and why things are the way they are.

If I see you at the Hanley's, first beer is on me.

Cheers,
matt

Blayze said...

I still hope you will give a few tours in the future. Best of luck on your other endeavors, and for what's left of the old empire city.

Jim Teacher said...

Crap, Chumley's is gone?

Signed,
A Sympathetic Jerseyan Who Hasn't Visited in Awhile

allen vella said...

Oh boy..like the buildings and signs and neighborhoods you feature, another great NYC asset is closing down, going away....You! I started reading about a year ago, and as a life long resident of our vanishing city since 1955, I've enjoyed and mourned the various places, peoples and things you have written about. Sometimes huge wells of memories have overflowed, reawakened to a sight or sign I used to know. Thank God for people such as yourself, you have performed a selfless act of love and devotion to chronicle loss as it happens right before us. Not an easy and pleasant task, but a necessary one. And i thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have shared. It made living here amidst the change a little more tolerable. I will truly miss your site. And I will continue to miss the New York i grew up in and loved so much. Thank you, Allen Vella

Ken Mac said...

okay, Brooks. This has gone on long enough. The joke is getting old. I want to see a new "who goes to" or a new discovery on your desk, then our desktop, pronto. This hurts.

A.Ro said...

Hey! I really enjoyed your blog. Will miss it!

debra said...

I found your blog when my daughter started college in NYC. I have, via your blog, explored some of the places she has seen. I know I've learned a lot. Best wishes and happy trails to you!

TheGirlPie@aol.com said...

Oh dear ~

As a girl from the left coast who's loved your city in person dozens of times since that first impressionable visit at age 15 on a Christmas Theater tour with my drama class ~ our beloved teacher was a former resident and took us to Chumley's and to Cafe des Artistes all those years ago ~ I am as sad/grateful to discover your blog today as I am disappointed to have been greeted by your good-bye post...

~ underscoring that all my favorite things over the last 35 years are only memories.

I'm sure that your efforts -- which I plan to enjoy in the archives and would be happy to support with a year of hosting fees -- will move the citizens you've reached, if not City Hall... yet.

Thank you,
~GirlPie

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Ken: The next Who Goes There will be on June 25. They'll be every two weeks after that.

jenny said...

my dear,
i shall truly miss your vantage of a city i have only visited eleven times in the past fifteen years (as i am from the cotton field country with preservation issues of our own), but figured would bow to the vestige of beauty and originality versus 'contemporary' or shall i say unlasting to temporary shit. may it all burn in heaven or hell. fuck jesus religion, bp, and bloomberg. thank you for the insight and your love of what once was.
sincerely, kindly, and truly, jenny lyn

BabyDave said...

Damn. As melancholy as it could make me, Lost City was also quite uplifting, a reminder of what great things this city has to offer, ones that should be treasured while they are still here.
Thanks so much for all your time and effort. It is at least some small consolation that you will continue "Who Goes There?", one of my favorite reads.

icsedge1 said...

Brooks,

Thank you so much for your efforts to maintain the City as a place for everyone to call home. Perhaps somewhere down the road, you might be in a position to enact policy that will help us save it. Bravo for an excellent blog!
Sedge

Ana said...

Geez, I only just discovered this blog, and now it's ended. As a born & bred New Yorker, I've also mourned the loss of my city during Bloomie's reign. I know I can't fight City Hall; but I'm not leaving, and you shouldn't either. Thanks for a great try, and hang in there, you're in good company.

Anonymous said...

Thank You, loved this blog for years, hope this isn't really the end, thanks again for all your hard work

-Steve, Cobble Hill

enodo said...

Sarah, "Brooks" -

I have always wondered why you and some of the other bloggers you mention (e.g. Jeremiah Moss, EV Grieve, etc) haven't gotten together to create an online publication that covers the city in a better way than the usual dailies. There's no silver bullet there financially, but at the very least sharing the work could increase your clout and make the schedule less demanding.

Ken Mac said...

Guess you really are serious. :(

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Yes, Ken, serious. I'll repost my "Who Goes There" columns as I write them for Eater. By fall, I may post a picture here or there. Things can always change, but for now this is how it is. Carry on the good fight, friend.

Howard said...

Every New Yorker--at least these those of us who choose to claim this city (or what's left of it) as our home--should be reading your farewell posting. Eloquent, honest, perfect in its lack of polish. Kind of like what New York used to be...

Pierrot said...

Please make sure your work is saved - my concern is that Google might delete it if the blog is inactive.

I feel as if I've lost a friend.

Didion returned.....I hope you will, too.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

As I said, I'll be doing the Who Goes There columns every two weeks and reposting them here, so it will seem as though the blog is a going concern. But, just in case, how DO I save the work. I assumed it would be stored by Blogspot permanently.

Mike F said...

It's interesting that in your world, the choices of the people who live in New York City (and, yes, move to New York City) have little to no impact on the way the city develops. Instead, the fate of the city is solely in the hands of its leaders, elected or otherwise moneyed and/or powerful. That, to me, seems naive.

I agree that the city administration and its corporate connections have played a major role in aiding and abetting what has transpired, but to lay the blame solely at their feet rather than pointing 8 million fingers at the citizens of New York City seems simplistic.

Nevertheless, it's always unfortunate to lose a passionate viewpoint and high quality writing, so you will be missed.

Paul said...

Brooks,

I have enjoyed reading your blog. I too lament people's lack of appreciate for things in our that should be preserved.

Nevertheless, I wanted to offer a comment that crossed my mind everytime I read yours or similar blogs. It is very simply this: there is nothing new about what is going on New York right now. I am a historian of New York and wrote my doctoral dissertation on 19th century NY. Over and over again vistors to the city in the 1800s would remark on how the city seemed to be in a contant state of being torn down. City residents were horrified at the flattening of the city as the 1812 grid was imposed upon the city and the natural topography was shattered. New York has always been, more than any other city like it, a city based on commerce, tracing back to its founding by the Dutch. The primary mission of New Yorkers has always been to make money. One way to make money was to constantly transform the city and its buildings and neighborhoods.

I applaud the efforts of preservationists like Jane Jacobs who seek to preserve achitecture worthy of being preserved. I have a much more realistic view of the other businesses that people think have just commodified New York. Just because a business has a Subway or 7-11 logo on it does not make it less authentically New York than a grubby corner bodega. All of those businesses will be run by New Yorkers just trying to make a living in this city. Every generation in New York will cast off the vestiges of the prior generation and businesses will close and buildings will get torn down. Someday someone will be lamented the loss of the city's Starbuck's as they are replaced by something else. The cycle continues and the city renews itself. Is a one hundred year old tenement building like the one I live in preferable and better for the city and its residents than some characterless luxury condo? Perhaps I should ask the rats and cockroaches.

Thanks for a great blog and good luck.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Paul: I understand your argument. I've heard it many times before. Please read a post of mine from March 2008 titled "The Nature of New York Is Change."

Pierrot said...

I read Paul's post with great interest (and yes, read the March 2008 post, too)

It's not that the city changes that I have a problem with, it's HOW it changes, and WHY ....

Do we really need a chain drug store every other block? What justifies the use of property in that way? Instead of using it to erect affordable housing that is so desperately needed (and not a mega-box, but housing that respects the architectural integrity of a neighborhood) what do we get? Another CVS, Rite-Aid, Duane-Reade.

Starbucks is part of the problem.

7-11? I damn near dropped the day I was walking through the 42nd Street amusement park, and saw a 7-11. I stopped and to no one said out loud "oh my God" My heart sunk. Business owners are not making creative, inspired decisions when they opt for a 7-11 franchise instead of a store that has character - originality, charm (God help me for using that word, but stet...) - PURPOSE. What happened to the neighborhood book store, pharmacy, etc.? In one way or another, they got consumed by corporations.....

Bloomberg is finishing the job Giuliani started. The city that I loved has become suburbanized. It is well on it's way to losing its soul, losing all that has made it unique, vibrant and vital. Some neighborhoods - like the East 80s that once had a thriving German community - have completely transformed into a whitewashed mini-mall, erasing its history, its essence. Those neighborhood that are untouched now, where will they be in 20 years if the suburbanization of the city continues unabated?

Brooks, I'm so grateful that you wrote Lost City. Your work is beautiful, intelligent, thought provoking - you gave a voice to what I felt, but didn't have the talent to express. Thank you again.

I hope you consider doing another walking tour .....

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Pierrot: You make me said I stopped. Don't know what to do sometimes.

Ed said...

There is an argument that goes somewhat like, "New York is a city that is really dynamic. It always changes. And New Yorkers always complain. And now the city is changing! And New Yorkers are complaining! So its all good. The city is behaving like its supposed to."

But change is neutral. Change that increases people's quality of life is good and change that decreases it is bad. Same with the economic, political, or cultural products of the city. Change is not an end to itself.

In some ways, the "New York is not America", to take a title of a Calvin Trillen book at the time, phase of the 70s was an abberation. While people who didn't quite fit in elsewhere could always at least disappear here, New York always moved with whatever was going on with the rest of the U.S., usually more extremely and more rapidly. But again, this is essentially a neutral quality, if the U.S. starts to decline, then New York will decline the same way but more rapidly.

One of the problems with discussing this stuff is that we don't have a convenient, shorthand term for the changes that have been happening in New York at least for this decade. But I agree with Brooks, they have not been good.

In terms of what New York contributes to the world, its pretty much financial scams at this point. Manufacturing has been wound up and there is not much going on culturally in this city at the moment (to my surprise, even the established monied museums are in financial trouble).

In terms of providing a decent urban experience for the people who live here, its no good. Too expensive for what it provides, too much traffic, too many unconsiderate people, pretty dismal restaurant scene, too many cookie cutter places. Plus OK in the past you would put up with problems with the city for a chance to meet some incredible people or see some incredible scenes, but now that is diminishing.

So New York, at least for me, has become a city where you stay here because you are here. Especially in these economic times, its difficult to move to place where there is no job or friends or family waiting for you. But this describes a declining city perfectly. This happens to be the phase of the decline where the boosters still make arguments, but when you look at them closely they are pretty much evidence free.

Pierrot said...

.....take care of you and yours, first and foremost....Crack the spines of those books that you've been wanting to read...

I always remind myself to work smarter, not harder. Lost City can be alive and vibrant and just as relevant with fewer posts -

Take a hiatus instead of a final curtain call.....

All this work - 3000 posts of reporting city history in the moment and not a penny for it? Sorry if you cringe, but consider monetizing Lost City -I always wondered why it wasn't...

Writing is work and work should be compensated.

r said...

Please just don't delete this work altogether, no matter how pathetic and pointless that rat race becomes. I just stumbled upon you and want to read! Thank you for taking the time to point out this american tragedy.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I get more daily page views now that the blog is closed, than when I did when it was active. So what's that about?

Pierrot said...

I've been re-reading posts.....I imagine others have been, too.

And of course I've been hoping against hope that you'll post something new - even though Lost City is in my Google Reader, I usually just type the URL into the browser....

So maybe others are also stopping in to visit an old friend, too..

Anyone else?

AJM said...

I'm very late to the party, but as a regular reader over the last few years (and very occasional commenter...I think I only chimed in once to thank you for highlighting the York Barbershop, which I've now been to several times), I really enjoyed your thoughts on the city, and will miss reading your entries. I've never actually lived in the city (grew up, and still live in, Southwestern Connecticut), but my wife was a long-time UES resident, so during our courtship ('03-'06) I got to spend a lot of time there, and still love reading about and exploring NYC (much to my wife's amusement). You provided a fantastic perspective on what's great (and, unfortunately, not-so-great) about the city....thank you.

upstate Johnny G said...

Maybe it's like those Joanie Mitchell lyrics in "Big Yellow Taxi"...

"don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got til it's gone...."

And the rest, too....
"put all the trees in a tree museum and charge a dollar and a half just to see'em......pave paradise, put up a parking lot...."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for everything. I have followed your blog from the beginning and have found it fascinating and sad.
This documentation is truly an accomplishment and a memorial.

Freshv8 said...

You need to put this all in a book so we can remember it for a long time.

Nirmal Singh said...

please don't end this blog! i've sat up for hours reading it, trying to learn about the city my father was born in, and the city i call home. you've done a fantastic job.