Friday, August 29, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Support the other Vanishing New York, a new film in the making about our disappearing city. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation. And don't forget to watch the trailer.

Best line from last night's DNC speeches: "We need a president who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney."

The corner of 17th and 8th unveils its Capital One bank branch--and it looks a lot like a condo with that frosty checkerboard glass action. Oh, how they do inspire one another:


The Howl Festival is coming up: Sept 5-7, Tompkins Square Park.

Enjoy a sampling of New York street art. [GVDP]

Brooks celebrates his 20th year in NYC and fondly recalls cockroaches. [LC]

The Green House

Jerry Foust's Green House art gallery and artists' residence at 75 Greene Street in SoHo was, in the words of Bob Arihood, the "successor to the Cave Artist Co-operative." Now it looks like the Green House has gone into the Dumpster, just like the Cave.


photo by epicharmus

Housed in a landmarked cast-iron building, SoHo's (most likely) last bohemian art space existed under the auspices of building owner Sue Stein. New York Art World writes about this "time capsule from New York’s wild frontier days of the 1970s," saying that Stein "wouldn't mind if it was fixed up a bit, but when asked if she could see it as a commercial space, she insisted 'that will never happen.'"

The gallery and artists' home thrived for a while, a miracle in a SoHo that Trigger Magazine called "occupied with German-like precision by Chanel, Prada and John Fluevog" in their article about Green House.


found painting

This week, a reader of JVNY writes in to say: "Walked by 75 Greene tonight, saw a huge dumpster out front. I know it was Jerry Foust's gallery and one of the last remnants of SoHo's golden era. Dumpster was packed full of paintings and a friend and I managed to save these. Any info?"

All I can find about the Green House shutting down are from commenters to this youtube video of an opening at the gallery. They say that the space has been padlocked for not being "up to code." If anyone else has information to share about the fate of Green House, or the source of these rescued paintings, please let us know.


found painting

Thursday, August 28, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Supermodel Kate Moss is cast in solid gold: "2.8 million, 110-pound solid gold...the largest such creation built since ancient Egypt." [yahoo]

Last year I visited the Antiques Garage, final holdout of the Chelsea flea market, soon after its building was sold to a developer for $42.7 million. It was just a matter of time, and today we hear it's leaving the hood for good. [Racked]

Huge East 125th Street rezone flies right under the radar. [Curbed]

Read this insane story about a self-described "loud, pushy," but "deeply sensative" [sic] wealthy mom's ad looking for a nanny--she's also looking for a book deal (aren't we all?). [Times]

Bodega cats rock. And for that they deserve their very own flickr pool--for when the bodegas vanish, so will the bodega cats.

Has NYC's flourishing bachelorette culture inspired little booze-flavored gummi penises? Only if you can wear them around your neck. [Grub St]

A commenter here mentioned "Shteeble Row," a term I was not familiar with. I had no idea that's what I was snapping pictures of along 225-283 East Broadway, now going "synagondo." A search turned up this appealing flickr set.

And checking in with some ongoing developments around town...

The first floor of 15 Union Square West, that big black condo, is shaping up to look an awful lot like a future bank:


The gutting of Kurowycky has picked up the pace and is going like gangbusters:


The foundation of 1 Jackson Square is cemented and now the scaffolding is expanding--into the street and into the sky:

Doyers Street

"The end of Chinatown is at hand."

Those words could be said today, but they were written in a 1907 New York Times story. The movement to erase Chinatown goes back at least to the late 1800s, when a supporter of its eradication proclaimed, "In all New York City, there is not a more disreputable street than Pell Street nor a more forbidding cow-path than Doyers Street." Together, these lanes were "cesspools of immorality vile enough to bring a curse upon the entire community."



Despite the city's best efforts, Chinatown did not die and Doyers has since stayed in Chinese hands. Of course, with Chinatown unprotected from developers, this will likely change.

I recently stumbled upon the wonders of Doyers and wrote about them briefly here. But like Oscar the Cat, I sometimes have an unsettling knack for curling up next to the dying in their final hours. Of course, it's not hard to spot the dying in this city--just look for what's old, beloved, and surrounded by encroaching glass.


Gold Flower hides Apotheke

Whipping up buzz for its opium and absinthe cocktails, the arrival of trendy, upscale Apotheke signals the death of Doyers. One of these places always begets another, then a boutique, a demolition, a condo, a crowd of scenesters--and in no time we'll see Doyers as we know it vanish. New York Magazine agrees when they say that Doyers "will soon become the Freemans Alley of Chinatown."

Before that happens, I made this photographic slide show of a walk down Doyers.

The street was named for Hendrick Doyer, a Dutchman who ran a distillery in the early 1800s where the post office is today. Doyer's became Doyers, thanks to "a careless painter of street signs" who "omitted the apostrophe," according to Herbert Asbury in an excellent 1926 essay about Doyers' distant history.


chinese opera house: library of congress

Known as the Bloody Angle, Doyers was the site of many battles between the Chinese tong gangs in the late 1800s and early 20th century. They killed each other with hatchets while "Disciples of the Pear Garden" sang onstage at the Chinese opera house. Doyers was also a good place to be shanghaied by a crimp or kidnapped into sexual slavery. There were opium dens and fan tan parlors. There were trapdoors, secrets openings, underground tunnels, and the infamous Arcade, a passageway that ran in an L-shape from Doyers to Mott.

Today Doyers is peaceful, but it's no empty alley like Freeman's was. A steady flow of Chinese pedestrians move through it, going to the barber shop, the post office, or just taking a shortcut. There's a sense of comfort and familiarity here. It is a vibrant community. In another great essay worth reading, Bruce Edward Hall calls Doyers "the nerve center through which throbs all the essential life of New York City’s Chinatown."


Click here for more photos of Ting's

Aside from the many bustling barber shops and hair salons, this nerve center contains Ting's Gift Shop, here since 1957, the year New York's last opium den was shut down. Opium still survived in private parlors and Ting's was raided in 1958, yielding 10 pounds of heroin. Today, Ting's offers a milder fare of paper dragons, finger cuffs, wooden snakes, and bamboo cricket cages.


Click here for more photos of Nom Wah

I sat down for oolong tea and almond cookies at the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. Here since 1920, it's run by Wally Tang, who just missed his chance to appear in a Richard Gere movie.

The parlor has an otherwordly feeling about it, filled with haphazard red vinyl booths and tables, the tile floor littered with Chinese newspapers. A mouse skitters by. Chinese music plays from a radio. Flies lazily buzz in from the open doorway. Through the dusty, sun-drenched window, from the Hip Kee salon across Doyers, a lady barber steps out for a cigarette with her black hair rolled in blue foam curlers.

A young white man walks in to the tea parlor, bearded and headphoned, and asks, "What kind of coffee do you have here?" The proprietor explains they have only tea, and the young man walks away, perhaps wishing for a Starbucks. How long will he have to wish?


Apotheke's door

A few doors down, a pair of Chinese men sit outside the Gold Flower restaurant that has become Apotheke. They smoke cigarettes and watch the street. Do they know what lies in waiting behind that half-risen metal door? Do they know that it is a magnet attracting the gweilo--the ghost men, the foreign devils, the walking dead--to come stake a claim in their peaceful hideaway?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Flophouse Reveal

Sometimes, a new development that looks like luxury turns out to be housing for lower income people and/or the otherwise homeless. There's the Lee on East Houston, with "104 apartments reserved for homeless people struggling with mental illnesses" and another 54 for kids aging out of the foster care system.

The Lee is being developed by Common Ground, creators of affordable housing. They're also behind one of the latest developments on the Bowery. Something the NY Press called "Flophouse Redux." They're turning the 99-year-old flophouse Andrew's Hotel into a "lodging house," which is a prettier name for a flophouse, as they aim to "save the aging buildings and their tenants from developers while reinventing the Bowery formula to serve a new generation of homeless," including "a dying breed of Bowery lifers who want to be left alone"--and drunk.



The Times described the Andrew's Hotel in 2000: "Walk up a steep, narrow flight of stairs in one hotel, the Andrew's, at 197 Bowery. Look into its dim lobby. It is like a yellowing photograph. Smoke hangs in the dank air. The cigar-stained walls are a smudgy green. Wooden chairs are lined in neat rows across the patterned-tile floor. Grizzled denizens peer out dirty windows onto the wide street and wonder where the years went. Time seems to operate oddly there."


rendering from 2006 Times article

The new Andrew's will be different. The design and plans for the lodging house were based on ideas from Japan and the needs and desires of homeless men and women. It's not a condo (cheek-by-jowl with Nolita Place, where Nicole Richie bought for a million) but it will look like one, kind of a cross between Cemusa and Ikea.

Everyone likes a little luxury in their lives--in this video from the Times, one resident is just really happy to finally have shelves--but I do have to ask: Is it being Jonesified just for the homeless or for their new Bowery neighbors?

Until then, fragments of the old Andrew's remain. In the facade tear-down, a glimpse into the Bowery past is briefly revealed:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

At the previously blogged-about 169 Bowery, Weiss Hardware's old sign has been repurposed for an art gallery opened by actor, director, and former model Norman Reedus, who says, "it's going to be sick":


Speaking of sick art, check out this graffiti next to the new American Apparel at Broadway and Howard. What's the new New York state of mind? Taking it from behind:


So maybe it's time to shuffle off to Buffalo. Maybe if we all went, it would work. [NYM]

Has Cornelia Street's Subterranean Records gone under? [FP]

Fill a city with jocks and scaffolding, and you're gonna get a whole lotta pull ups. [BB]

Holy shizzle, as the kids today say: Chelsea's super-luxe condo Yves looks like it's become desperate enough to convert to rentals. [Curbed]

Sometimes, there's good news at the Chelsea Hotel: Two more tenants win rent stabilization. [LWL]

Ozymandias' Synagondo

Recently, a fired-up crowd turned out to save the 100-year-old Meseritz Synagogue on East 6th from becoming yet another condo/luxe apartments. Later, the developer backed out, saying they are "no longer affiliated with this project." The plan is (was?) to demolish the synagogue and construct a new building in which the synagogue would take the first floor with luxury apartments upstairs.

It won't be the first time such a plan was put into motion, and it won't be the last. Let's call them "synagondos."

Grand Street News says "these types of religious-residential hybrid buildings may become more common as developers look to capitalize on a great location and synagogues look to improve their finances and physical conditions."



The same thing is happening at the Young Israel Synagogue on East Broadway. The scaffolding went up last June, according to Loho10002, and the permit says it's going to be a 23-unit, 14-story residential tower--with a synagogue on the first floors.

The luxury residents will be using a separate entrance from the congregation.



The building originally housed the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in 1881, and the first Young Israel in America moved here in 1912. Though it looks gutted, today the building is still standing--on a street where signs printed in Hebrew can still be seen. Another vanishing sight in this fastly fading city.

I can't find any renderings of the synagondo to come, but here's what the developer, Ozymandius Realty, wants to bring to Great Jones Street: Take a gander at this "flower among the weeds."



As an interesting aside, Ozymandius is kind of an odd name to choose for a real estate development company. Shelley's "Ozymandias" (spelled with an "a," but with a "u" on their site) is all about hubris and the fall of a civilization marked by "short-sighted pride." It's about how men build structures, thinking they will rival God, and then those men die and their structures crumble. What's left is the "desolation that results from the impulse to impose oneself on the landscape."

Anyway, here's Shelley:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Monday, August 25, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Bank of America arrives at Coney--Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins soon to follow. [KC]

What will be the future of Times Square? Ask Benjamin Chesluk, author of Money Jungle. [NYT]

A goodbye to Cafe Figaro in a city where "nothing is mourned" and cafes like Figaro have become unnecessary. [Times]

Marc Jacobs: "I am a perfect being in a perfect world." Can you see the threads between this belief system and the carnage on Bleecker? [Racked]

New York "tycoons" eat sushi off platters made of naked women. Can you not hear the empire crumbling? [NYM]

Jonathan Franzen mines more of the anti-cell phone territory he began in "Imperial Bedroom," and I love it: "Just 10 years ago, New York City (where I live) still abounded with collectively maintained public spaces in which citizens demonstrated respect for their community by not inflicting their banal bedroom lives on it. The world 10 years ago was not yet fully conquered by yak." [TechRev]

NYC's cuddliest anarchist launches a press conference on tenant harassment with his neighbors. [NMNL]

Meet the young real estate moguls who are beating you down with their sledgehammers. [EVG]

Park Slope Barber

Brooklyn’s Park Slope Barber shop on 7th Avenue and 4th Street is celebrating a big birthday this year--but it's not entirely clear which one.



In 1948 the Fiumefreddo family took over the business, back when it was still across the street, where falafel is now made under a tin ceiling. They inherited the leather chairs, the gas-powered hot towel steamer, the 100-year-old brass cash register, among other artifacts.

They don’t use the hot towel steamer anymore because it’s against the health code. “Back in the '60s,” one of the Fiumefreddo brothers told me, “the Board of Health shut them down because they were unsanitary. They found a lot of barbers were using them to keep sandwiches warm.”



Though the Fiumefreddos are celebrating their 60th, the shop’s birthday goes back another 40-odd years. The window says it was established in 1906, but the awning puts it at 1904. So which is it?

“The guy who did the awning got it wrong,” Mr. Fiumefreddo explained, “We just left it like that.”

So it was opened in 1906?

“Nah, 1903 actually,” Mr. Fiumefreddo laughed, “The window painter got it wrong, too.”



If it did open in 1903, that makes this barber shop a whopping 105 years old. That's just one year younger than the oldest barber shop in New Jersey and the oldest barber shop in the U.S. (both 1902, let them fight it out). I'd have to guess that being established in 1903 makes Park Slope Barber the oldest shop in New York City. Does anyone know one that's older?

More photos of Park Slope Barber shop

More barbers:

Friday, August 22, 2008

First Avenue Fiasco

In the city today, entire blocks can be erased with the swipe of just one man's hand. You already know about 9th Ave between 17th and 18th. Now a VNY reader sends in this scary info, following up on last month's news of David's Bagels closing, about 1st Ave between 13th and 14th:

"Turns out, the landlord wants to close/sell an entire string of stores along 1st Ave: Kathy's Jewelers, David's, and Wines on 1st, possibly continuing down the rest of the block (sushi place and small deli; not sure about GNC). A friend connected to one of these stores tells me the landlord wants to at least use the three stores named to open a bar (cuz lord knows what we need in the East Village is another effing bar). I blame the A Building for all of this."





The buildings that house these businesses were once furniture warehouses, turned into condos back in the 1980s, with two-bedrooms then priced at $184,000.

Already, the Lucky Huang gift shop next to Wine on 1st and the "Nail Nail Nail" nail salon next to that have long been shuttered. August 29 is the last day for David's Bagels:



If the news is true, then pretty much this entire block is about to go up in smoke. My fingers are crossed that the neighboring H&W Hardware, founded in 1924, isn't marked for destruction too. *Update: I can quit crossing my fingers, according to a commenter here, the landlord is hiking the rent on H&W's lease. Now that leaves just the two anchor stores on the block, both chains: GNC and Hot N Crusty.

*Everyday Chatter

The death of wonderfully anachronistic Doyers Street begins. [GrubSt]

12th Street Books is having its moving sale for the next two weeks: All books are 50% off and they're bringing a bunch of stuff up from the basement.

Sorting out the whole Extell, Westbrook, Ben Shaoul, East Village Portfolio tenant-harassment thing. [Curbed] And EV Grieve has more.

And here's who they're making room for: Corcoran's "broker to the stars" says of his "young, hip" and loaded clients, "we have many, many people who want to be in the East Village." It's time to leave. [Curbed]

More bad news for the EV: The heterosexuals are taking over. Lots of Dockers, lots of pink Izods with popped collars. [EVG]

Gen Y gets more free shit just for being, well, them... “When it gets a little boring, I might pull it out"--the mantra of the iPhone age, in which everything is apparently "a little boring" since these masturbation substitutes are always out, everywhere. [Times]

RENT

Broadway’s RENT is finally vanishing in September. For the occasion, Life Café has hosted a video contest for the many “Rentheads” who make the pilgrimage to Avenue B, much like Sex & the City fans flock to Magnolia. Life is apparently a Mecca for those wanting to “take a trip back in time to have for themselves an ‘original East Village Experience.’”



To win tickets for the show in its final weekend of performances, Rentheads were instructed to visit Life, take a seat on the “Thank You Jonathan Larson” bench, and record on film their “What RENT Meant to Me” moments.

These moments probably include many stories about being inspired to come to New York and shoehorn into overpriced East Village apartments to pursue the dream. But will anyone’s moment include the shocking day they got notice that their RENT was going through the roof? Or that they would no longer need to pay RENT in the East Village because they were being evicted?

Thank you RENT.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Remember that East Village Portfolio, the big-ass Extell sale of 17 buildings? Here's more fallout: 40% evictions and lots of harassment. [City Room]

Though it's still under construction, it looks like condo Yves is already welcoming new tenants. This guy walked out of the lobby, looked around, grabbed the scaffolding, and started doing pull ups. Someone tell him the scaffolding will not be one of the amenities:


Skyline Books is having their annual 30% off sale--until around Labor Day. Go, go, go and support this shop, because you know they won't be there forever:


Go see Pete Hamill tonight at the Tenement Museum. [BBoogie]

Enjoy Nordic Delicacies with BaHa in Bay Ridge. [SE]

Pandamonium: Just hipsters being nihilistic? or a meaningful, joyful, culture-jamming demonstration of that old NYC spirit? [Gothamist]

Speaking of nihilism, check out this "Jews Against Obama" guy and the pseudo-Nazi stuff happening on the new Orchard Street. [NYC]

Speaking of huggy bears (and Nazis), NYC's cuddliest anarchist protests "Hollywood Nazi occupation" by film crews in the EV. [NMNL]

And come Sept 5, the Slacktivists will be at it again:

8th St. Salvation Army

Like most of the businesses on the block before it, the Salvation Army thrift store on West 8th Street is on the verge of vanishing.

A sign in the window says “Prime Retail Space Available.” Their 10-year lease has expired and they are “in limbo,” trying to negotiate a new lease with the landlord. But with that sign up, and the way things are going up and down that ghost-town of a block, the future looks grim for what many New Yorkers, and Villagers especially, think of as the best Salvy in town.



Even dedicated label-hunters find hits here, unearthing clothes and accessories from Hermes, Brooks Brothers, and many other designers, all for about 10 bucks or less. It may be one of the few remaining places in the city where rich, poor, and those in the middle can all go urban-treasure hunting together. You can even find a strange surplus of "Dubya Duds."

Now it may be time to say goodbye to Salvy’s “3 Floors of Shopping Excitement.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

"The bloom is off the Apple," says residential SoHo. (Remember, people actually live in that mall?) Furthermore, "no bar, nightclub, or construction site comes close to continually ruining our quality of life like Apple SoHo has." You go SoHo! [AMNY]

Sounds like a good time to revisit the Urban Etiquette Signs flickr pool:


Check out the AdBusters blog.

Here's an interesting article on gentrification from Next American City: "Many gentrifiers are in college or graduate school, and the income that these newcomers report to the IRS often approaches zero."

Get inside the mind trying to keep Applebee's from going kaput. It's a place filled with "phrases like 'drink equity' and 'healthy indulgence rebranding.' Everyone is on the hunt for the next 'craveable.'" [Times]

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Nostalgia for old-school hipsters in Williamsburg and hatred for those who go "woo" in the night. [Bad Joke] via [Curbed]

One of our first drag kings, 87-year-old Storme DeLarverie, will be honored at the Chelsea Hotel August 21. [LWL]

I guess the East Village just isn't authentically trashy enough for television--HBO's got to dump their fake garbage here. [NMNL]

In downtown's BMW dealership, Mr. and Mrs. Stepford are shopping in their licensed apparel:


Essex below Grand, largely untouched by Vongerichtification, is getting a wine bar. But is it kosher? [BBoogie]

Another peek inside old Kurowycky Meats. [HunterG]

Nikos to Nicky's

The sudden, if not entirely unexpected, closing of Nikos magazine shop on 6th Ave and 11th St was a devastating blow to periodical lovers all over town. Just 11 days later, Nikos has been renamed Nicky's. Any relation?



The recessed entrance is gone, the door blown out to expand the space, and the windows have been cleared of all those curling journal covers faded in the sun, so you can actually see inside.

A large refrigerator filled with Vitamin Waters and Cokes. The shelves full of People, Vogue, Newsweek, and the like. I could be wrong, but somehow I doubt we'll ever see Daedalus, Dislocate, Lacanian Ink, or the New York Quarterly in this new place.


Monday, August 18, 2008

*Everyday Chatter

Finding her beloved theater turned into a Sephora, Leslie Nipkow writes, "I want to sit in a theater seat and lose myself in somebody else’s imagination for a few hours. I want to be reminded that my world does not stop at the front of my face." [Times]

The Stuyvesant Polyclinic is to be a "think-tank sort of thing" and not a private mansion, as previously marketed. I guess Lenny Kravitz wasn't interested after all. [Times] via [EVG]

On Grand St., a developer's condo plans go up in smoke for a homeless shelter. He claims the locals were "jealous." [NYP]

A look at one of the Bowery's last flophouses--and Sam Chang's (so far thwarted) efforts to turn it luxury. [Metro]

“This might be the beginning of the end of the American empire.” [Times]

The Cooper Union "hive" gets glass between the metal sheets:


New blog in town: Check out "No New York."

See Richard Sandler's films at the 6B Garden August 22--and watch Brave New York here. You will weep. It's impossible not to. [Gothamist]

Check out "A Loving Portrait of a Neighborhood," 8/24 show by EV photographer Lorcan Otway.

Celebrate art in Alphabet City with Chashama.

"Once there was another city here, and now it is gone. There are almost no traces of it anymore, but millions of us know it existed, because we lived in it: the Lost City of New York." --Pete Hamill, New York Magazine, 1987

Condo Bodies

Here's an odd vanishing. What's conspicuously missing from both of these Meatpacking area advertisements?





If you guessed pubic hair, you're right.

The male body, especially, doesn't look shaved, it looks partly erased. And possibly castrated in the process. The female body looks kind of like a smooth egg. The V shape of the tan line suggests a pubic mons, but without the unruliness.

Yunnies not only strive to Jonesify their surroundings, they Jonesify their bodies, too. No dirt, no fat, no hair, no age. No chaos and nothing out of control. Like robots. Like glass condos. Hard, smooth, cool, and streamlined.

And now they're doing it to little girls.


juicy couture

This salon offers "'Virgin'-waxing for children 8 years old and up who have never shaved before. Virgin hair can be waxed so successfully that growth can be permanently stopped in just 2 to 6 sessions. Save your child a lifetime of waxing... and put the money in the bank for her college education instead! Ask about our special children's prices."

The Post reports that salons all over the city are seeing hundreds of moms signing up their daughters for this procedure. And according to this extensive story in Philadelphia, it's happening there, too, where pediatricians can't remember the last time they saw pubic hair on pubescent girls, and narcissism is getting a leg up on the next generation.

Last I heard, genital mutilation was illegal in this country. Here's the number to call for Child Protective Services: 1-800-342-3720.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kim's Is Coming

Recently I reported a rumor on the street that the old Kurowycky butcher shop on First Ave in the East Village would become a video store--possibly a XXX video store. It's not XXX, but the rumor has been confirmed: Kim's is coming east again, four years after closing their "mean" location on Avenue A, where the original Kim's was born in 1987.

From a source close to the source, we hear that after the Community Board roadblocked Penmanship, the upscale eatery that may have preserved some of the vintage butcher shop elements, the building and former butcher shop's owner decided not to further pursue the restaurant route.



Already, Kurowycky is being gutted. The sign recently came down--the letters were too brittle to save, crumbling in the demolition men's hands--revealing an older sign, spelled out in the ghosts of lost tiles: STASIUK BROS, the meat market bought out by Jaroslaw Kurowycky in 1974, long before these days when, as the shop's head butcher once told Drawger, "everybody want Whole Food stores: a lot of lights, decorations, show off, that’s what they want."



Thankfully, some folks from the neighboring International Bar have been working with Kim to salvage some of the marble and the porcelain subway tiles from Kurowycky. And while I'm sad to say most of it is going, I am not sad to know that we're getting a Kim's instead of another crowded, noisy restaurant. Especially when the big Kim's on 8th Street will be closing.

The Egg Cream Lives

After last week’s egg cream controversy stirred up by the City Room’s article “Can the Egg Cream Make a Comeback?” in which the proprietor of Chocolate Bar offered to reinvigorate the lost egg cream for New York City by fancying it up with flavors like hazelnut and espresso, many people replied that the egg cream never died, so it isn't lost and doesn’t need any reinvigorating. An egg cream fan, I decided to embark on a tour of the Lower East Side to check in on the true state of this New York delicacy.

A map of the following can be found on Eater.



katz's

I talked with Fred Austin, co-owner of Katz’s, who assured me, “The state of the egg cream is good. But it has to be served by a middle-aged Jewish guy with an unlit cigar clenched between his teeth and a wet napkin draped over his arm. Otherwise, it’s not a real egg cream.” Traditionally, because they didn’t serve dairy, Katz’s didn’t do egg creams until about 15 years ago. Fred, who grew up on Grand, used to get them from kiosks on the street. “Those were the best.” What does he say to the claim that Chocolate Bar is bringing the egg cream back to life? “Not if they’re making them hazelnut they’re not.”

(As for those perennial whispers Katz’s might be vanishing, Fred says, “Every so often I drop the rumor we might be closing, just to boost our business, but I like this place too much. We’ll be around for a long while.”)

The Stats:
Fox’s U-Bet, seltzer from the soda machine, $3.50


russ & daughters

Next stop, Russ & Daughters. Here my egg cream was prepared in the most romantic way. The seltzer came out of a blue glass siphon bottle and was delicately poured over the basin of a long spoon. The lady asked, “Do you want it more seltzer or more sweet?” I like sweet.
Fox’s U-Bet, Castle brand seltzer from glass siphon, $3.50

At Yonah Schimmel’s, they give you the best presentation. Syrup is added in the back kitchen, milk and seltzer comes from a fridge in the dining room. It is not entirely mixed and a little swirl of chocolate graces the foam. If I were handing out points, they’d lose for the Canada Dry, but the finished product is lovely. Washes down a knish very nicely.
Fox’s U-Bet, Canada Dry seltzer from a plastic bottle, $3.00


yonah schimmel's

Veselka was the only place I went where you can get it in a glass, instead of a plastic or waxpaper cup. Tastes cold and frothy.
Fox’s U-Bet, seltzer from soda machine, $2.50.

The B&H Dairy does a fine enough egg cream, though they lose theoretical points for using Seagram’s seltzer from a can.
Fox’s U-Bet, Seagram’s, $2.50

The Stage restaurant was the only place I visited that didn’t use Fox’s U-Bet syrup. They used Hershey’s, a big faux-pas. Still, a good-tasting egg cream.
Hershey’s, seltzer from soda machine, $2.25.


gem spa

Gem Spa is known for its egg creams, but mine was a little too seltzer and not enough sweet. A good newsstand egg cream nonetheless.
Fox’s U-Bet, seltzer from fountain, $2.00.

While all of the above places offer only the traditional chocolate or vanilla, Ray’s Candy has 20 flavors to choose from, including Coca-Cola, Mango, and something frighteningly called Sky Blue Raspberry. These sound more like slushies than egg creams, but they’re so outlandish and low-brow, I can’t hold it against them. Besides, Ray’s is my usual egg cream source. They’ve also got the best value.
Fox’s U-Bet, seltzer from soda machine, $1.25 small, $1.75 med, $2.50 large.


ray's candy

Finally, I tried the egg cream from Chocolate Bar. I passed over the hazelnut and espresso for a traditional chocolate. I must admit, it was tasty, they prepared it well, and the price was surprisingly low. It won't reinvigorate the already thriving egg cream, but it shouldn't do it any harm, either.
Fox’s U-Bet, seltzer from a stainless siphon, $2.00 vanilla and chocolate, $3.00 hazelnut and espresso.

I'm sure I didn’t try every egg cream in the neighborhood and there are many others all over the city--please add your favorite in the comments--but even this short list should go to show that the egg cream is alive and well, and in no need of rescuing any time soon.