Tuesday, November 3, 2015



Artie's hardware store on West 14th Street has been forced to close. A merger of Aaron Hotz Locksmith and Hardware Mart, in one form or another, Artie's was in business for over 85 years.

Reader Tom Bernardin writes in to report: "I was told the rent was going up to $30,000."

Artie's was in a Pratt building. Now Pratt's got the windows papered with a giant advertisement for a fashion show.

Pratt recently made news for evicting staff and faculty members from the art school's Brooklyn campus, including 79-year-old head engineer Conrad Milster, the man in charge of the once-beloved, now vanished New Year's Eve steam whistle.

So there you go.

photo: thomasokeefe's instagram


Donnie Moder said...

Pratt area was once in a real estate boom circa 1890s. I guess it is in one now bigtime too.

Tom Bernardin said...

Artie's was a long time fixture on 14th Street. A very large hardware store serving all the tall and small apartment buildings near 14th and 7th. Now where we will ago go for paint, hardware, lighting, you name it? It was such a needed amenity to the neighborhood. Folks in my building, super and staff are all at a loss. It all stinks. Keep chipping away at something and it no long exists.

Tom Bernardin

Richard Federico said...

Sad to see the school that handed me my art degree joining in the greedy real estate mayhem. Thanks Jeremiah for adding that link to Pratt's eviction of Conrad. The campus housing for faculty was unique and added to the schools legacy of being a real creative environment and community of which Pratt respected and was committed to preserving. It's just disappointing to see it turned into more student dorms, but sadly it's in line with New York's current state of thinking that nothing historically cultural should be preserved if it can't turn a quick buck.

From what I witnessed Pratt has had a history of taking advantage of it's employees even back in the mid 80's. I remember the welding shop technician (who lived in the old faculty campus housing) couldn't stand the politics anymore and left for a teaching position in a New Jersey High School. The next year the woodshop technician followed his friends lead. These two characters were very similar to Conrad in personality and helped to give the school that local New York flavor of moxie and charm that attracted me when I applied. I wish I got to know Conrad better, but he was always deep in that beautiful boiler room from morning to night and though you hardly saw him, you literally felt his heat and were aware of his presence and his importance to the campus operations. Maybe his minions of cats that freely wandered the campus added to his legend, but he was always there sort of like the Wizard of OZ meets meets Willy Wonka. His love and respect for that boiler room was evident.

I was nearing graduation at this time and because I worked a lot in the woodshop and was skilled in carpentry, it was suggested that it might be a good transition for me to replace the technician when he left. The school even had the exiting Technician (Tom) train me as per the job responsibilities. Well... within that two week period I kept getting mixed messages that I had the job and then no they were going to hire someone outside. Sensing chaos and the politics that caused these technicians to leave in the first place i just said I was not interested anymore and moved on. At this time Pratt was starting to lose it's edge and identity anyway. The surrounding neighborhood was just starting to clean up and wealthy foreigners (mostly Asians) were now walking the campus. Nothing against wealthy foreigners, but as a Brooklynite myself, I was starting to feel like the foreigner. Looking back now you could say Pratt was still on the cutting edge of the avant garde! Only this time it was the cutting edge of greedy real estate speculation and gentrification. Not my idea of an art school, but great if you like the "Mall of America" look and feel of the campus today. Even with all of my disappointments with Pratt it was still a great school even though I attended it during it's transition years. I got to experience the unique quality of it's great past as well as the ubiquitous mediocrity of what was to come. Throughout all the changes it was always comforting to know that Conrad was still there plugging away in that old boiler room (I can still smell that delicious Brooklyn steam!), too bad his epitaph ends like this.

Sorry to go on long and a bit off topic Jeremiah, but my time at Pratt came flooding back to me. I understand if you choose not to post this.

zuzuzpetals said...

Enjoyed your post Richard Federico. Oral history is always rich.

laura rubin said...

donie moder: i thinkyou mean 1990's? (not 1890s).

Jenn said...

Here is a message from the president of Pratt in regards to the "eviction" of Conrad by the way...


Integrated Media Solutions said...

As a long time (+6 year) and regular customer of Artie's I'm very sad to see it go! There's been a lot of turn over on 7th avenue between 6th and 7th Ave over the past couple years but I never expected such an essential business to close for good. Sad to see a locally owned and operated hardware store with plenty of quirks and character close and I hadn't even considered the affect on my own work in the neighborhood.

To the folks from Artie's - thanks for everything you put into the store and wishing you the best down the road!

Jeremiah - many thanks for your ongoing chronicle of the decline and your energy pushing back against the tide...