The lovely, doomed Market Diner is being prepped for demolition. It has now been surrounded by a wall of green plywood.
Thank you to Andrea Kleiman for taking these photos
The Market Diner, opened in 1962, was forced to close a few months ago by its owner, the Moinian Group, who bought the site with plans to demolish the beloved vintage restaurant and erect on its grave a high-rise luxury condo tower -- making a total of three towers they will have on that very same intersection.
The diner is a true one-of-a-kind. What's replacing it is a dime-a-dozen. Once again, we're losing authentic local character for more soulless architecture from the "geography of nowhere." And no one in City Hall is doing a damn thing to stop it. As the proprietor of Chelsea's shuttered La Lunchonette restaurant just told the Daily Beast, "There’s not much integrity left in New York when chains get breaks and small businesses struggle."
The same goes for mega-developers, who have received billions of dollars in tax breaks and other incentives, corporate welfare from New Yorkers' pockets, to reconstruct West Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen into a glittering city within the city for the super-rich.
It all makes me think of the 1995 essay “The Generic City" by architect Rem Koolhaas.
He riffs on the blankness of homogenization, the “superficial” city that, like a Hollywood studio lot, has no identity and no age. The Generic City is an “endless repetition” of blank facades, offering a kind of sedative to urban dwellers.
“The street is dead,” says Koolhaas. “Close your eyes and imagine an explosion of beige.”
I’d rather not.
In 2011, he commented on his prescient essay: “These days, we're building assembly-line cities and assembly-line buildings, standardized buildings and cities.”
Across the street from Market Diner
That cannot be said about the Market Diner. It is not one in an endless repetition of the same. It is not generic.
But it is dead. And, like much of the city we've loved and lost, it's the victim of murder.