18 June 2013

A Memory of Old Ludlow Street

Found among the comments on an item I wrote about the changes on Ludlow Street back in 2008, from the actual owner of the once-popular Ludlow Street Cafe:

I owned The Ludlow Street Cafe and The Piano Store. I lived on Ludlow St. since 1967 and Jack Forster worked for me (Hi Jack) and was right about the guns and that it was NOT a job for a guy just out of college! (Hey Gaby we NEVER sold a piano? We sold lots of pianos!) Before gentrification got out of control it was fun. The block is now unbearable--not then. We had 3 bands a night 7 nights a week. The food was good and it was cheap. Girls would bend over garbage cans--we kept the backyard dark. Drug dealers provided something wanted--if they sold in the bathrooms they were fine. We had no C of O--our legal limit was 74. Fri/Sat night we'd have well over 200 people. They never bothered us for it but clocked us $1,500 for selling a beer to a cop who looked 30. The brunch was first-rate. It was all fun and firsts and I feel responsible for bailing when I did--if it had kept it's rough edges Ludlow St. might have survived. We NEEDED the bodegas selling bags of dope 8-Balls of coke on 


Carol Gardens said...

I'd also like to mention Luna Lounge, a great place in the 90s to see bands and also the place where the NYC alt comedy was birthed on Mondays night. Sarah Silverman, Marc Maron, David Cross, Janeane Garafalo, Todd Barry et al. PS: Those swing nights at Pianos were great.

upstate Johnny G said...

Interesting comment (along with the rest on your original posting). I wonder why the former owner said they "NEED"ed the bodegas to sell cocaine? The artists of yore should realize that they were the start of the gentrification process. The idea is that artists, especially young ones, are generally poor but are willing to take the risk of living in poorer conditions. Once you get enough artists in the neighborhood then other young people are attracted there and some of them will open coffee houses, cafes, or galleries. The presence of these establishments in addition to the artists then makes the neighborhood "hip" and the hipster crowd starts moving in. The new arrivals can pay more, so rents start to go up but also more expensive shops and eateries begin to open in response. Then the commercial interests really take note and you see buildings purchased and turned into condos, and suddenly a bare-bones studio is 5 grand a month and all the artists have moved out along with the funky little shops and cafes and Starbucks, Duane Reade, and Chase have moved in along with new outposts of the city's elite restauranteurs, and the galleries are selling established modern art for Wall Street prices.

This pattern of neighborhood change has become so "usual" that urban development consultants advise cities to deliberately induce artists to bad neighborhoods in order to "seed" gentrification. I have read exactly this recommendation made in such a report for a city nearby. Once you get the artists in place, the rest is automatic.

Ed said...

So you get rid of the artists? Make sure your neighborhood has no good restaurants or interesting bars at all? The only two options being Victory Boulevard or Melrose Place. I really don't think the artists are the problem here.