Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Everywhere You Go...

In addition to spawning a Bank of America on its first floor...



...this big, black apartment building on 8th Avenue and 16th Street is about to provide a harborage for yet another Duane Reade. The sliding doors are now in place, and the COMING SOON posters are up, ready to welcome you to the city's nine-hundred-millionth D.R., giving proof to the jingle, "Everywhere you go...Duane Reade!"



Let's remember for a moment what used to be here--before the demolitions, before the glass box, the bank, the ubiquitous chainstore, before this corner looked like everywhere...and nowhere:


Photo: Romy Ashby of Walkers in the City

12 comments:

EV Grieve said...

Those newish Duane Reade photos on all the stores make me nervous... the stylish woman carrying a Duane Reade bag... She's so god damn happy with her purchases she doesn't realize that she's walking into oncoming traffic....

P. said...

There's also one coming to Williamsburg, on Bedford, directly across the street from the beloved Kings pharmacy. Fuck Duane Reade.

Anonymous said...

OMG ... we were just talking about this the other night. I used to live three blocks up the street, before there were three Starbucks within easy walking distance; before there was an ATM on nearly every corner; and before literally every gayish place got replaced by some corporate thing. Chipotle, Subway, Qdoba, Bank of America, Duane Reade ... such is the corporate face of Eighth Avenue in Chelsea.

Anonymous said...

I walked up Sixth avenue in Chelsea last month after an absence from the city of several years ... as I passed David's Bridal (!!!) i started to get a very weird sense that i wasn't in nyc anymore. Without even closing my eyes it was easy to imagine I was in any other large city packed with huge new buildings and chain stores - Jersey City, San Diego, Toronto, Vancouver all come to mind. It was just a freakish feeling I couldn't shake until I left the city. Very sad to see it's happening to Eighth as well.

Ed said...

6th Avenue in the teens and twenties was the first place in the city where, walking up it one day, I thought, "oh a mall". Unfortunately Union Square has now gotten to be like that (check it out at night with all the signs of the chain stores all lit up. It looks like a parody of Times Square). Its a lot easier to avoid 6th Avenue than it is to avoid Union Square.

I find blocks with deteriorating buildings and closed storefronts kind of creepy, but I find blocks like much of 6th Avenue with chain store after chain store creepy too. I am seeing more closed storefronts these days, too.

Anonymous said...

Jeremiah,

I've been an avid reader of your blog, but lately I can't even muster any sense of outrage anymore. The city as we knew it is GONE and not coming back. I know things change, but i don't think the spirit even exists anymore to be resurrected.

I was on vacation out of the country this recent holiday. And in the past, whenever returning from a trip, I would get this... "feeling" for lack of a better word. The excitement of coming back to the most exciting place in the world. Like "I'm BACK in New York City." Well, I didn't get that feeling this time. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I hadn't felt that way in a LONG time.

I no longer see the daily theater of humanity that was so characteristic of this formerly unique metropolis. I used to expect the unexpected. I'd see a gang fight on the L train platform. I'd stumble upon a fire-juggling class in an LES park. I'd witness a drunk woman and her girlfriends streaking down what they thought was isolated corner of SoHo in the middle of the night and laughing about it when caught. I'd see B-boys help an old man who'd fallen on the street. I'd hear amazing music on the street. I'd smoke trees in the clubs and movie theaters (along with everyone else). I'd meet progressive people doing amazing things that inspired me. I'd see and hear and live all kinds of things.

Of course, those kinds of things occur fewer and further between now.

And I'm beginning to be resigned to it all. Finally.

I read your blog out of habit now, but nothing really surprises me anymore. Another Duane Reade/ Chase Bank/ Tim Hortons/ Marc Jacobs/ gastropub? Of course. A venerable diner closing? What took it so long? Nothing seems to get me mad anymore.

Face it folks. New York City as we knew it is OVER. All that's left is the bones to be picked at.

Anonymous said...

Used many of the little shops on this block. There was a bar, NW corner of 16th & Eighth, small bldg. you can see in photo. What was the story there? How about Camouflage boutique?

Ed said...

Agree with Anonymous 3:20. For awhile in the 1990s I lived in a small Midwestern city. I basically made by life there as pleasant as I could and hoped and worked for the time when I could eventually leave. I'm finding myself taking the same attitude with New York right now, even to the point of adopting the same habits.

For example, I've pretty much stopped exploring. I just don't expect to find much that is interesting anymore.

R.C. said...

Look, I'm the 1st person to rail against chainstores-- everytime I see another Walgreens, Bank of America, or otherwise I die a little inside.

But you guys do realize that DR is a home-based chain, right? It's not some evil carpetbagging corporation that invaded NYC to destroy local businesses. It started on Broadway between Duane and Reade St. It's a NY store.

Don't get me wrong-- I'm all for fighting the good fight to keep NYC unique and free from the evils of mallification, but let's pick our battles carefully, please, or better yet, understand what we're fighting for and against. Lamenting the death of NYC at the hands of a 40+ y.o. NYC-based chainstore is beyond ridiculous and plays into the hands of opponents who argue that the "preserve NY" crowd are basing their feelings on cheap sentimentality, not anything substantial.

I mean, what next? Bashing Ricky's?

Anonymous said...

To RC.

Yeah I knew that. But so is Chase Bank, and I don't want to see them on every corner either (Even though I bank there).

Jeremiah Moss said...

i wouldn't even want to see Ray's Candy on every corner of the city. too much is too much.

caroline said...

I fall somewhere between R.C.'s comment and everyone elses'. When I turned 18, in 1983, I immediately moved into the City to attend The School of Visual Arts. I vividly recall, in the 80's, saying "Wow, there are Duane Reade's everywhere". I left the City in 2000, for Philly (where there is still plenty of "grit & menace") and have only been back twice- once for a 9/11 funeral, the 2nd time to show my daughter the greatest city in the world. It's been about 5 years since and I can't help but wonder....just how many Duane Reades ARE there now?? I guess my point is that they were already obviously expanding in the 80's. At least they haven't gone national. And, honestly, I loved Duane Reede in the 80's. They ARE a NY store...sure too much is too much but Duane Reades are a might better than Starbuck's...