10 December 2009

Bring Out Your Dead! 2009 Roundup of Lost New York Landmarks

The shedding of Gothamite landmarks slowed a bit in 2009, as compared to previous years under the all-powerful Bloomberg-Burden-DOB Developmental Complex, but that was mainly because all the builders took a big sock to the kisser from the recession. Had they had the wherewithal and the Wall Street clients, developers would have happily planted thrice as many office towers and condo complexes and landlords would have kicked many more mom-and-pops to the curb.

Still, there was bloodletting enough for all in this sad burg that's so resigned and lazy that it endorsed land-grabber-empowering power-monger Mayor Mike to another, ill-gotten term on the throne. Here are the never-to-be-seen-again, New York City one-of-a-kinds on which, since Jan. 1, 2009, cruel fate has rung down the final curtain. (For previous annual Bring Out Your Dead tallies, check here for 2008, here for 2007 and here for 2006.):

Gone, Baby, Gone

Diamond Dairy, a Diamond District kosher luncheonette on the second floor at the back of a diamond exchange. One of a kind and utterly irreplaceable, gone after sixty years in business.
The Pink Tea Cup, a 55 year-old soul food staple in Greenwich Village, run by several generations of the Raye family, announced it would shutter for good on Jan. 1, 2010.
Armando Tailor, a vestige of old Italian Carroll Gardens on Smith Street, closed after Armando Nardi retired, taking with him decades of old-world skill.
Tavern on the Green (as it was). The City rejected the LeRoy family's bid to retain control of the famed restaurant, leading to a bankruptcy filing, legal warring with City Hall over the rights to the name, and a coming fire sale of the joint's many sparkly decorations. Goodbye, Crystal Room. My mother will miss you.
Cafe Des Artistes. Another bankruptcy case, George Lang, owner since 1976 of the posh UWS favorite with the wonderful murals, walked away in a litter of labor lawsuits. The Howard Chandler Christy murals belong to the Hotel des Artistes. No one's jumping on the lease so far.

Jay Dee Bakery, Forest Hills fixture for 60 years.
Joe Jr. Restaurant, a beloved Greenwich Village greasy spoon served its last July 4, after 45 years in business.

Joseph Patelson Music House ended 89 years of selling sheet music on June 7.
Manny's, mecca for generations of musicians, favorite store of hundreds of legends from The Beatles to B.B. King, the great store of midtown's Music Row, was mothballed by owner Sam Ash, who turned the storefront into—what else?—another Sam Ash. This was perhaps the greatest loss of the year, in my opinion.

Arnold Hatters, one of my favorite stores in the City, and one of the only real hatters left in New York, finally gave up the ghost, the Rubin family never having survived having been bumped from their previous Eighth Avenue home by the New York Times tower. 83 years the place was in the business of dispensing lids and skimmers.
Amato Opera, a musical beautifier of the Bowery, closed after 61 years.
Trunzo Brothers Meat Market and Salumeria, in Bensonhurst, now a 99-cent store, dunzo after 33 years.
Giambelli, a 50-year-old Italian restaurant in midtown, done in by the MTA, which needs to build a ventilation plant where the eatery stood, to serve the new Long Island Rail Road connection to Grand Central Terminal.
Frank's Fish Market, in Washington Heights.
The "21" Club's Tie Requirement. The venerable old restaurant, one of the last in town to insist on proper neckwear, knuckled under to the slothful anti-demands of the Great Underdressed.

Endangered Landmarks

The Eagle Theater, a classic old showcase of Indian films in Jackson Heights, closed in May. I suppose there's a chance it may reopen, but a slim one. The nearby Jackson Heights Triplex, in business since 1924, closed a few months later.
Gino's, which may become the victim on an ongoing union dispute.
48th Street's Music Row, the eternal strip of music stores on W. 48th between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, which the Sam Ash people don't think is long for this world.
H&H Bagels, the owner of which UPW legend keeps allegedly breaking the law, not paying his taxes, and pissing off the Feds.
Monte's Venetian Room, possibly the oldest Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, which closed under mysterious circumstances in fall 2008 and hasn't reopened yet, but hasn't been gutted either.
Nathan's Famous, the Coney Island icon, which is not landmarked, and, under the City's moronic new zoning of the area, could be replaced by a a hotel tower of up to 20 stories.
O'Toole Building, dirt under St. Vincent's feet if the Greenwich Village monster hospital gets it way.
The Brooklyn-side view of the Brooklyn Bridge, thanks to a 17-story DUMBO tower planned by the Walentases of Two Trees, and approved by City Planning debutante Amanda Burden, despite the disapproval of almost everybody without a motive.

And These Were Landmarked or Saved

Totonno's, iconic Coney Island pizzeria, which will finally reopen in December after suffering a fire in March.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor, the oldest dim sum joint in Chinatown, which was closed down twice by the DOH, but managed to reopen.
The former B.F. Goodrich building at 1780 Broadway, but not its sister building around the corner, 225 West 57th Street—Thanks, meddling City Council!
Paramount Hotel
La MaMa E.T.C.
Herman A. and Malvina Schleicher House
Ridgewood Heights North Historic District in Queens
St. George's Syrian Catholic Church
Prospect Heights Historic District
Fort Washington Presbyterian Church
The Bronx's NYPL Woodstock Branch and Hunts Point Branch
New York Botanical Garden's Museum Building
(Plus many more Landmarks Commission designations, but those were the highlights for me. The commission was fairly busy during the last half of the years, perhaps in reaction to having been taken to the woodshed late last year by the New York Times, which ran a series of unflattering articles.)

Saved But Left Town

Cheyenne Diner, which closed in midtown, and hoped to reopen in Red Hook, but ended up in....Alabama.

Saved But Altered

Theatre 80, former playhouse, former movie house, in the East Village, now still a theatre, but with a cafe.

Saved But Humiliated

The landmarked interior of the old Gage & Tollner on Fulton Street, now an Arby's franchise.


Vesuvio Bakery, the landmark, luckless SoHo bakery, which was bought and reopened by the City Bakery folks.
Holland Bar, Hell's Kitchen dive of dive, offered a new lease by the same landlord that kicked the decades-old bar out last year. Downside: the walls have been scrubbed clean of character.
Armando's, aged Brooklyn Heights restaurant and Dodgers haunt, found the courage to reopen on Montague Street, with a new interior and, better still, the same old neon lobster sign.
P&G Cafe, which was forced out of its longtime space at the corner of Amsterdam and 73rd, but found a new home (sans excellent neon sign, sadly) at 78th and Columbus.
Vermont Farmacy, weird Carroll Gardens relic pharmacy being rescued by new lease-holders, who hope to open an old time soda fountain.
Elk Candy Company, former Yorkville bastion of marzipan greatness, reopened as Internet company upstate.
Paris Shoe Store, which left its lovely, longtime Greenpoint home to move down the street a bit, to an unlovelier space.
Henry Miller's Theatre, gutted, aside from the landmarked 43rd Street facade, but given a new theatrical life. And the great old sign was saved.


Jeremiah Moss said...

damn, i missed the moving of the Paris Shoe Store. a loss of great signage and design.

Teri Tynes said...

Sad list. Add one more - BB Sandwich Bar on W. 3rd Street, home to a great cheese steak sandwich. It's closed and for sale.

Unknown said...

I'd add Famous Wines and Spirits on S. William

Anonymous said...

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PS Amen, brother! I miss McHale's