Good news and bad news. I was relieved and surprised to find that Gramercy Pawnbrokers, against all expectations, is still standing. But I was flabbergasted to discover that the rest of the block at 23rd and 3rd has become an immense wall of white stone and glass.
Curbed called it a "condstrosity" and it is. Except it's now an NYU dorm. And it cantilevers over the little pawnshop like a giant kneeling on the shoulders of a child. I am sure if it could have, it would have blobbed down the other side to totally engulf the walkup, like its neighbor just one block south at 22nd. I guess a lot of Things are eating Gramercy these days.
Unless you are everywhere every day, you just don't see all the changes until it's too late. I used to stand on that corner and wait for the 3rd Ave bus to take me home. There was a magazine store there and I would spend my waiting time looking at the magazines in the windows. What else stood on that block? I can't remember. It's all been wiped away.
When they tore down whatever buildings used to be there, the buildings I have forgotten, a mural revealed itself. Now that's vanished too. The coming first-floor tenants will be Rite-Aid and HSBC bank.
The things worth looking at in this city are dwindling. What we take in visually becomes our thoughts. When we look in the window of a pawnshop, we see stories--wedding rings tell of love lost and betrayed, guitars speak of dreams deferred, typewriters tell more tales than we can imagine here. What will our thoughts become when all that's left to see are the blank faces of condstrosities?