Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rawhide: 1 year

One year ago, the Rawhide bar was forced to close after 34 years in Chelsea.

The space went to a west coast pizza chain called Project Pie, "the Chipotle of fast-casual pizza," but that deal later fell through. The Rawhide space remains empty today.



Did Project Pie back out of the deal? Why is 212 8th Avenue, a prime High Line-adjacent property, still empty? Reader Chris speculates, "I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that that space is on the same block with two gay sex stores that are crawling with outer borough hustlers."

Indeed, neighbors have tried to shut down Rainbow Station and The Blue store, complaining to city officials about "24/7 Murder, Drugs, Male Prostitution, Rowdiness, Noise at Night Burglary." But the sex shops soldier on, keeping this stretch of rapidly hyper-gentrifying 8th Avenue safe for dirty queers, and not so safe for shiny, happy pizza chains from San Diego. For now.







18 comments:

The End of History said...

I know that in the past you have defended the right of the sex stores to be in Chelsea as they are part of the old mix but they bring crime.
I have lived in an apartment building on 18th St between 7th & 8th since the 1980s and last year every apartment in the back of the building that didn't have bars on the window was broken into.
When we spoke with the detective in charge of the investigation he said it was one of the "video booth hustlers" a term I had never heard.
They break into apartments for the same reason they sell themselves at Blue, to fund their drug addiction.

The End of History said...

Also just look at the lots there, you know the people who purchased the rawhide building are waiting to snatch the building that Blue is in. This is a perfect site for another shiny tower. I'm sure this is what's going to happen.

Anonymous said...

'Out Boros', jeez. Why not just write fags, queers or pervies?

Anonymous said...

This Rawhide story has plenty of presumably sarcastic content (e.g., its reference to "dirty queers", but why does it omit the salient fact that Rawhide, called here merely a "bar", was a famous gay bar, famous enough to have served as a location shoot for William Friedkin's film "Crusing" starring Al Pacino some 35 years ago?

Jeremiah Moss said...

Anon, my use of "dirty queers" is not sarcastic, but quite positive. Click my links, please.

John Charles said...

It's the classic case of landlords for the most part only concerned with the bottom line & not impact on the community. Price them out and have empty storefront for months maybe years. Reminds me of a great small coffee shop on Broadway & 56th St. Was owned & operated by one man, and made great coffee. He loved his place, but in 1995 was kicked out after rent increase, was called Coffee Arts, take a walk today it still remains empty, as it has for almost twenty years. Incredible but true, what value was added to the community with this landlords actions, and how was the life of the community and owner in small & large ways impacted, and they arrest old ladies for selling churros on the subway platform, oh America.

Mark said...

I believe that scenes from Cruising were actually filmed at the long defunct Ramrod on West Street.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what's going on with those sex shops? It used to be locals and no problems. But I have to be at work early and walk by a lot and don't feel safe anymore. It wasn't like that before. They have attracted a sketchy crowd.

laura r. said...

anon 1:04pm, leave the PC controls @home. jeremiah is an artist. sometimes he can be a bit insulting, not in this case. it is true that that block attracted some lowlifes, & yes there were robberies. the pizza place could have found a better location for any reason. maybe they wanted a longer lease.

Michael Simmons said...

The End Of History laments that "...last year every apartment in the back of the building that didn't have bars on the window was broken into."

This is New York City, not the suburbs of Oshkosh. I preferred New York when bars were on windows, doors were locked and strolls were furtive. Kept the amateurs out.

Anonymous said...

Never mind the businesses with gay clientele. What upscale shop wants to be next door to a Salvation Army store?

historyglass said...

In reply to Michael Simmons, I think you're missing my point.
I moved to 18th St in 1983 when Chelsea was not a safe part of town and nobody in their right mind would walk on 8th Ave at night, so I've seen it all buddy and lived it.
The video booth hustler was caught because he was filmed on cameras in our building, so we know it was a hustler.
My point was really about how sad it was that this guy had to smash up our building because $5 blowjobs at Blue did not give him enough money for smack.

laura r. said...

mr simmons, you dont remember or have a clue about quality of life. i grew up in NY, it was a different world. not everyone thrives on degeneration.

Giovanni said...

Sadly. Chelsea is so over, the waves of change have finally done it in. It was just a regular working class neighborhood in the 70s when there was the bowling alley on the 2nd floor over the Lamston's on 23rd St. and 8th Ave. There was a coffee counter and donut shop on the south corner with the best jelly donuts, and a Psychic upstairs above the pizzeria, and all the degenerate types stayed where they belonged, in the Chelsea Hotel.

Chelsea was a great place to grow up back then, playing stickball in the street, climbing on the old abandoned tracks on the high line. And believe it or not it was safer than a lot of other places like the East Village and Spanish Harlem.

When Rawhide showed up it was just dark and seedy, an odd place where gay men from the Island and New Jersey went to hide out in a neighborhood that was full of openly gay men, and it was not a very good neighbor. Those sex shops are gross too, even compared to the old ones on Times Square. They are basically for people who haven't discovered internet porn yet, or who just crave catching strange diseases from strangers.

When the avenue gentrified, or maybe it gay-ified, it improved briefly with places like The Big Cup coffee shop and some of the better restaurants opened up. But then the next wave of gentrification came, so even white gay males count afford to live there anymore and they all moved up to Hells Kitchen.

Now Chelsea's culture is fading away as everyone keeps getting priced out. But you know gentrification has run its course when one of the founders of Pinkberry is sentenced to seven years in jail for beating a homeless person with a tire iron. How the mighty have fallen....

Anonymous said...

To rebut a few comments: Cruising was not filmed in Rawhide. The restaurants on 8th Ave between 20th St and the Salvation Army have been there for years and are doing just fine, so if some 'upscale' restaurant finds the block undesirable, thats their idiocy. And…Ive lived in Chelsea since 1976 and would never have been 'out of my mind' to walk on Eighth Ave at nite. But yes, Blue is skeevy now and definitely attracts a bad element. And…I miss Rawhide.

laura r. said...

gioanni, i lived across from the chelsea hotel in 1971. corner of 7th ave & w.23rd. gee i thought my neighbors were genious, rather than degenerate. harry smith, robert mapplethorp, harry katogis, billy maynard, shirley clark.......& the great parties. no i didnt venture up 8th ave, didnt care for the area much. the chelsea has been a historical place for writers, artists since the 1930s. what went on a few blocks away was a another world.

Anonymous said...

As a gay New Yorker who's lived in Chelsea for two decades (and in the village before that), I'm willing to risk the dangers that those seedy 8th Ave booth-stores present -- if only to slow down the inevitable mallification of the neighborhood. In fact, a year ago, I was this close to getting rolled by a hustler hanging outside Blue. Still, I will fight to defend these last bastions of sleaze in this increasingly homogenous city. I moved here to ESCAPE the suburbs. But if these admittedly sketchy sex stores (and Salvation Army too) go the same way as the Rawhide -- getting replaced by more Starbucks, more Banks of America, and more juicing bars, it'll break my gay heart. This neighborhood will be no different than any other neighborhood in any other town. I might as well just move to Connecticut. Depressing.

Anonymous said...

There IS a little bit of good news in this story: Because the site has been sitting empty for a year, the greedy landlords probably lost a quarter-million dollars in rent.