Walking up Eighth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen the other night I noticed that the building I once referred to as William Waldorf Astor's Porn Palace was gone.
This was the building on the northwest corner of Eighth Avenue and 46th Street. One of the oldest structures left in the now-almost-completely-gentrified neighborhood, it had been girdled with a sidewalk shed for years, its windows all punched out and half-covered with plywood. For a time, I wondered if it would ever been taken down. Of course, it finally was.
The people who took it down probably only saw an eyesore. I doubt they had an inkling as to its history as a possession of the Astor family. From 1853 to 1921, the Astors owned this corner, as well as a number of properties on W. 46th. (The Astors once owned the building that now houses Barbetta.) They divested themselves of the area when it got a little too raffish for their tastes.