Thursday, November 20, 2014

727 Hardware

For 80 years, 727 Hardware has been serving the neighborhood around its location on 6th Avenue and 24th Street. They even survived the arrival of Home Depot just a block away. But recently, their landlord told them to go. The Heart Vein medical office upstairs, with the blinding, flashing LED billboard, is expanding.

So the hardware store is going.

Luckily, they found a new spot at 328 8th Avenue, between 26th and 27th. They've already got the shop mostly packed up.

I like an old hardware store. This one's not my local, but I've picked up a few items here in the past.

As an old shop, it has some nice features, like the vintage lettering on the windows--and inside, too.

When I visited, a very accommodating young man gave me a tour of the place. He showed me an ornate staircase leading down to the basement, and a weird bathroom window that, he said, led to a secret passageway between the buildings.

The hardware store's building is neighbor to a building that had once been Koster and Bial's "The Corner," a saloon connected to the famous music halls of the day. Eagle-eyed urbanists are often drawn to that cornice up above.

In the 1939 shot below, from the NYPL's archives, you can see a sliver of the original hardware store on the far right. Next to a Playland arcade, it was then called "Sol's" hardware store. You could get two keys made for 15 cents.


In the following 1936 photo, also from the NYPL archives, the shop is some kind of "bargain bazaar," and not a hardware store. So maybe it didn't quite make it to 80 years.

I share this photo for the great shot of Playland--and the description of the arcade on the back of the image, which reads: "It is provided with a rifle range, many slot-machine games, and cheap recorded music, as a diversion for people with not too fine an appreciation for good entertainment."


Well, I suppose the same could still be said today of that spot, occupied as it is with a XXX shop selling DVDs and rubber goods. And thank goodness for that. Sadly, we lost Billy's Topless from the Koster & Bial spot in 2001.

And now this old hardware store is going, almost 80 years, gutted for vein treatments. I'll miss seeing it there. I liked walking by and thinking, "Now there's a survivor."

Please find them at their new space on 8th Avenue, between 26th and 27th, after December 1.


Mark said...

Remarkable that they survived Home Depot.

chris flash said...

I am CERTAIN that this building was connected with the Koster + Bial theater chain, based on the exterior arch and interior layout with ornate staircase to the basement, as well as connection to the rear alley (now occupied by a parking garage) that connected Koster + Bial offices above the corner at 24th + Sixth Avenue with the Koster + Bial theater on West 23rd Street (now a non-descript office building), just west of Sixth Avenue. This would be in the 1890s.

yogissimo said...

I actually prefer the small hardware stores - compact, knowledgeable staff, attentive service, quick in & out. At Home Depot, you get none of the above - to find someone to help you or something you're looking for takes ages. Glad they found a new home. We need these small scale stores.

Mod Betty / said...

I too am a big fan of old hardware stores - where everything is so danged USEFUL!

Once again Jeremiah - your website is such a valuable resource - not only to remind us to go visit these gems, but sadly as a trail of tears for future generations to see the corporate termites that are chewing away at NYC, leaving nothing but glass and steel and no heart, in their wake.

Anonymous said...

Can you explore / get pics of the hidden connection to the next building?

Ed said...

Growing up in Brooklyn Heights in the 1980s, it has occurred to me that I went through an earlier version of this. Residents often complained that they needed to buy something from a hardware store, they had to leave the neighborhood and go some distance away, since all the local ones had closed due to higher rents.

The good news is that the neighborhood is landmarked, as are lots of other neighborhoods, so this phase in the city's history doesn't have to do permanent damage. With a saner economy and society, hardware stores (and dance studios) can return and move back into the intact and maintained old buildings and things can pick up again as before. As long as the landmarks law holds up.

The bad news is thst this phase is looking like it will last for decades, and we will all die before it does.

JMe82080 said...

Right next to Billy's Topless, two great relics of old New York. Does anyone know what "The Corner" was in the interum between Koster & Bial's Beer Hall and Billy's Topless?