Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lighting District

The Bowery, when I think of it and when I walk on it, rarely means that stretch between Delancey and Canal. In my travels, I tend to turn on Delancey or sooner, but recently I decided to walk this stretch. In the Lighting District, after 6:00 pm, the sidewalks are empty of crowds and you can really take it in. Which you should do soon, because it is being decimated.

See all my photos here.

The vanishing begins at Houston with the Avalons, then the New Museum, followed by a hole in the row of tenements, ready for boutique hotel 250 Bowery. Condos are rising quietly, stealthily, among and behind the kitchen supply stores. The kids at "mega-club" BLVD and Crash Mansion are waiting on the sidewalk, eager to access the opulence, the decadence, the feeling of exclusivity promised there.



Across the way, Jay Maisel's Germania Bank building, covered in graffiti, stands like a solemn reminder of the ruined past, windows sealed with silver foil, reflecting.

At Delancey, the seeds of destruction have already been planted in 2 of the 4 buildings bought for demolition--the familiar skull and crossbones means the rodenticide is in place--the first step is always: Kill the rats.



At Grand, the accidental jewel of a shopkeeper's scale gleams gold in sunset. Here you might find Shao P. Chen's minicake stand, profiled beautifully in The New Yorker--is it still there, in the shadow of the Providence Hotel?

At Hester, a corner has come down. The Music Palace theater has been replaced by a poster for the glass tower to come and a message, it seems, from the gods of destruction: "On your knees..."



The Diamond Corner holds on to its vintage signage. Everywhere, shop windows still glitter with chandeliers for sale, a hundred windows filled with lamps.



And just before Canal, the amazing Kowloon Bay beckons, a scene straight out of Hong Kong, a market filled with Chinese herbs, soaps, inflatable creatures, folding fans, etc.

Above Kowloon is the Bowery Lodge, where you can still stay for $30 a night.



I predict the next genius developer will open a swank boutique hotel on this street and call it "Flophouse." It will come complete with cubicles, with bunkbeds wrapped in high-threadcount Egyptian cotton linens. It will have shared "social" bathrooms for group trysting. Every cubicle will come with Armand de Brignac served in a Mad Dog 20/20 bottle. It will be opened for you by a concierge dressed as a bum.

And the Flophouse hotel will not cost 30 bucks a night.

13 comments:

EV Grieve said...

"Armand de Brignac served in a Mad Dog 20/20 bottle"

But wrapped in a brown-paper bag, right?

As for the hotel, I'm guessing the same genius will call the restaurant The Soup Kitchen.

ken mac said...

I hate to be so negative but can anyone say "Bring out your dead"? Dead as in the buildings that are dissapearing, and dead as in the well heeled kids who bring their sickness to the Bowery. Gimme the bums any day by comparison.

Hey what's up with the building on the corner of Bowery and Houston? It's all boarded up. Can't be long for this world.

ShatteredMonocle said...

This section of town is like a bad joke. Some day this "shabby chic" trend (or whatever it is) will wear off as all trends do, and people will wonder how we ended up with such obnoxious and offensively garish institutions smack in the middle of what remains to be the most rank and disgusting part of Manhattan.

Take someone from out-of-town on a stroll through the LES and try explaining to them that it's a swanky and exclusive neighborhood. They will think that is insane, and they will be correct.

L'Emmerdeur said...

Off topic: the large space on University and 8th Street that used to house a Leslie Joyce? CVS.

Cari said...

Godamnit. I spent many a happy Saturday watching HK double-features at the Music Palace on that corner of Hester. Soymilk drink boxes and stale peanut M&Ms. Damn, damn, damn...

I guess every lost building hits someone particularly hard. This one's one of mine.

ken mac said...

love how you blurred the faces of the brainless in front of blvd. Adds a surreal, soma imbibed and ready to party touch.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i'm trying to be respectful. of the dead.

and the innocent.

Yunkie said...

Need to keep a sense of humour about the whole thing--life goes in a circle and I believe we are about to close that circle very soon--former hedgefunder accepts $500.oo to help carry off a kidnapping--desperate--wait til we see more of these yunnies be desperate--only a matter of time.

Jill said...

I miss Chinatown already.

Dane Vannatter said...

I predict the next genius developer will open a swank boutique hotel on this street and call it "Flophouse."

Hey Jeremiah, didn't this prophecy come true and isn't there a former flophouse that is now a boutique hotel?

Jeremiah Moss said...

yes, Dane, it did come true. right down the high thread-count linens in the little cubicles. that's scary.

laura said...

yes jeremiahs a prophet. (re: flophouse hotel). i do the same where im living. unfortunatly it ALL comes true & always soon after i get the vibe. or just appreciate something, then i KNOW it will be gone. my morbid imagination seems to know "whats up". or shall we call it "down...down down down....." some places become downwardly mobile......where is new yorks intelligence? the dumbing down of man-hat-tan.

Dane Vannatter said...

OK, I soldier on for the remainging 2 years of your wonderful but heartbreaking posts until I reach the present day. Pittsburgh is looking better all the time....