Friday, October 3, 2008

7th St. Tumor

Sometimes, my memory is jumbled and I can't recall what was where and when. For years, when I've passed St. Marks Place and 1st Ave, I've looked for a bronze plaque that marked the home of W.H. Auden. I remember it being there, and then I remember it not being there.

But recently I noticed an Auden plaque on the facade of La Palapa restaurant. It's smaller than I recall and it's not bronze. What happened here? Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but I figure that probably what happened was that the original plaque was on the exterior of #77 and then the first floor was gutted and extended into the sidewalk, and now houses La Palapa, where a new, more Palapa-styled plaque was installed. (The owner enjoys Auden.)

This reminds me of something that's happening one block south, on 7th St. As EV Grieve noted, a tenement's first floor has been gutted and extended into some kind of tumorous growth. I figured the landlord was doing some Mutt-and-Jeff job, adding on a weird room so they could get more rent, but now I suspect this is going to be yet another bar and restaurant.

At the Department of Buildings there was a Stop Work Order on this address and they've received a dozen complaints about ongoing construction--mostly, it seems, from a beleaguered resident. Recently, after a long lull, they received a big shipment of cinderblocks and cement.

I predict we will see this one day rented to a loud bar and restaurant with open seating out front, that the Community Board will deny their liquor license, but they'll keep fighting and eventually win, and that this street will get another nuisance. Calling 311, the CB, whatever--nothing deters.

*Update: Nope, it became the Tokio 7 consignment shop.

Auden didn't live at this address and neither did any other famous poet, as far as I know, but it's still worth preserving this little bit of peace. As Auden said soon before his death, "I adore New York, as it is the only city in which I can live and work quietly.''


EV Grieve said...

Good lord! That's a lot of construction materials. Are they planning on building a stadium in there?

Anonymous said...

J, maybe it will be a new and very special Ralph Lauren store,hawking the preppy/WASP look as interpreted through the LES fashion prism. And at prices requiring heavy leverage.

Jill said...

I have reported illegal construction to 311. Here is what happens: nothing.

I've called the police to report illegal construction (which is what you are supposed to do if you see construction during a Stop Work Order). Here is what happens: nothing.

Bob said...

You're doing it wrong, Jill. In this sanitized, hyperdeveloped city nobody's going to care about illegal construction. You'd probably have better luck calling in a smoking violation to the site. Dangerous and illegal construction that puts workers and passerby in imminent bodily harm is no big deal, but exposure to secondhand smoke which may or may not cause health complications to such people decades from now is a horrific evil that needs to be stomped out now. Goes to show where this administration's priorities lie.

Anonymous said...

Hello there Jeremiah - the Auden plaque has been stolen probably about a dozen times over the years...mostly in the 80s when drug addicts found reselling melted bronze to be a way of scoring a couple of bags. The City finally gave up putting new Auden signs on...until now I suppose.

Do you remember a woman who lived on the ground floor of Auden's building who had a pet pig? (This was in the early 90s). I'd see her walking it around occasionally....


Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks daniel. i don't remember the woman with the pig, but i wish i did!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy this blog, but if you are seriously complaining about the style of the Auden plaque versus the substance (i.e. the fact that the sign is there), then I'm beginning to worry that you are missing the mark. Lord knows there is plenty to complain about, but I think that's pretty silly.