Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Thing that Ate Gramercy

I walked by this demolition the other day on 3rd Ave and 22nd St. and snapped a few shots of this sad little staircase to nowhere. Something about that banister felt poetic, sentimental. Maybe it's the way it's been exposed, how buildings in their destruction reveal their vulnerable interiors. Part of me wanted to cover it with a blanket.



The three-story brick buildings that stood here have been coming down for the past weeks and the blog Welcome to Murraytown has better photos of the demolition in process. Google Maps' streetview, for now, has very clear pictures of what used to be here.

What will come to replace them is a 20-story luxury condo tower. What creeps me out about their marketing copy is the way they sell its supposed proximity to the East Village. But 100 times even creepier? Look closely at this latest rendering:



Do you see the little brick low-rises that are being consumed by the gigantic tower? Not just cantilevered over, as originally planned, they have been totally engulfed, like prey in the belly of The Blob.



The two below will survive, but the neighboring teal balconies appear marked for death.


google maps: all pics on my flickr

How did the condo developers manage such a monstrosity? Here's the story. About those little holdouts, maybe the developers feel the way Peck-Moss does about the tenement being swallowed by their Cooper Square Hotel: "Mr. Moss says he considers it an asset that guests in the $100 million hotel, which opens this summer, may peer down on a tenement roof where laundry is being hung out to dry. 'That’s the kind of thing people want to see,' he said." (He's talking about the home of Hettie Jones.)

We are ants in the heat of a sadistic child's magnifying glass, something to be gawked at and consumed and stepped over.

The Blob could be a metaphor for the way many of us feel every day as the new New York encroaches and devours. But it's not a metaphor. It's the sickening reality.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

We have become a destination site--busloads of tourists--gawk--gawk--fuck them--just know who they are

anon. said...

Welcome to Gotham City or Metropolis, depends on whichever fictional cartoon you prefer. What we lack is a Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent. We also need some super villains to destroy all these new condos; even Superman or Batman himself cannot stop that.

KnicksBasketballNY said...

Yuppieville?

Yunnieville?

What should be the new name of the city come 2010?

New York City as we knew it died during the 2000-2009 decade.

Horrible Horrible Horrible decade for me.

Joshua said...

That's a very disturbing picture. Like something out of science fiction.

GothamTomato said...

This was done in Atlantic City as well, when they started developing those casinos. There were people who would not sell out and were built over, leaving them no light at all.

It is disgusting, and what I'd like to know is how are they able to build OVER the building in the middle?? Shouldn't that building own its own air rights? How can someone build over top of it? (And what City council person, or commissioner had their pockets lined to OK this zoning?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for documenting the destruction of gramercy. Now get ready for the really big vanishings -- the police academy and Cabrini.

Or if someone gets paid off -- maybe they will just build right over the top of them.

Anonymous said...

When will someone build over St. Patrick's Cathedral? I know it'll ruin the view of Olympic residents but think of the fabulous lobby the cathedral would make not to mention a Communion-themed restaurant. New York is definitely New Carthage!

WTM said...

Hey Jeremiah, impressive blog. I guess I am kind of different, I get excited by change and shiny new buildings, but you are right, we are losing our souls in the process. New York will eventually become one big glass and steel corporation, and all the artists and writers and musicians will have been displaced! Take it easy, WTM

Joshua said...

That's a good question, gothamtomato. Who DID give them permission to build OVER those buildings?
If those low-rises have tiny backyards, does that mean the residents can come outside and bask in the florescent lights of the building engulfing them? Can the yunnies stare down at them?
I guess maybe they can, since that "we like the novelty of watching the litle people hang laundry" quote from Peck-Moss seems to confirm just that.
Wow, the superhumans in the ice place above are fascinated by the primitive customs of the lesser beings below them.
This is all very disturbing.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks WTM--and you know what? i don't think there is anything inherently wrong in getting excited about change and shiny buildings. everything in balance is cool. and you sound like someone with balance.

so_chic_darling said...

I've seen it before,it ate most of Chelsea before moving east.

Anonymous said...

News Flash: New York City is safer and more livable than at any time since its birth. And for those of you who deride the architecture, I suggest you read some urban history because you sound like reincarnations of those very same people who called the Flat Iron Building 100 years ago, "the ugliest building in the world".

Joshua said...

Oh no, not one of those historical justifications again. Does anyone else get tired of these stories about how horrible the city was when the people telling them weren't even here to see how horrible the city was?
Anyway, in regards to architecture, I think the dominant force driving our complaints is A: affordibility, and B: the use of massed weath to push one overweaning style of architecture. Due to the current, excessive pace of luxury development, this new style is rather difficult to escape.
But either way, look at that picture. Doesn't the design seem a bit domineering?

Noah said...

As a small child I lived at 145 E 22nd, and I remember it fondly. Give me old New York any day, with its industry, its small stores, and people.

Neil J Murphy said...

This reminds me of the brownstone on the upper west side near Bloomingdale's that was engulfed by a glass skyscraper back in the late 80's-early 90's. That place had an old woman who refused the buyout renting the top floor; she died not long after the building was finished, IIRC, and the brownstone was incorporated into the skyscraper.

Oh, by the way: your Google maps link leads to 3rd Ave and 22nd street in Brooklyn, not Manhattan.