Monday, December 8, 2008

10th Street Falling

Here comes another boutique hotel.

Recall back to last year's stories about the demise of East 10th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues. Since then, the one-story building on the corner--a structure that held a bodega, record shop, check-cashing place, Chinese takeout, and part of the Atlas Barber School--has been gradually sinking into squalor after a stop-work order stopped demolition for the rumored hotel to come.

Now, X's are spray-painted on the facade and the skull and crossbones of rat baiting have appeared in the windows. Sure signs of imminent demolition. But what troubles me most today is that those skull-and-crossbones stickers have also been placed in the windows of the brick townhouse next door.

I talked to an employee in one of the shops on the block who filled me in. The owner of the townhouse sold it to a pair of hoteliers who want to take down the corner and put in a boutique hotel. (I don't know who they are or what their plans are, other than that they're building a hotel.) Blockshopper has more info on the sale, which went through in May for $5,430,000 (Halstead report).

The employee thought the developers would be using the townhouse as their construction office. So then why the rat baiting? I've never seen a rat-stickered building that did not soon vanish.

Built in 1900, 82 East 10th Street may have housed the Hilda Carmel Gallery in the 1950s, where Pollock, Rothko, and de Kooning had their work. This block was once the home of the New York School art scene, where galleries like Tanager and the studio of de Kooning helped give birth to the Abstract Expressionist movement.

The LIFE archives turned up a fantastic series of photos by James Burke, highlighting the art scene on this block in 1956. In this overview shot, you can see how that entire side of the block was once townhouses and tenements. (Click the photo credit links below to see more and larger images.)

photo: James Burke for LIFE

You can also see, on the right, what came down for the single-story now about to fall. It's hard to imagine a city in which taller structures are replaced with smaller ones. Today, the sign for LOFTS & SPACE is still a ghost on the upper brick wall above MORAL's fire extinguisher tag and the giant silver penis.

Here's another shot, aiming west from the south side of 10th Street, looking directly at the doomed corner. Of course, almost everything on the north side has been wiped out.

photo: James Burke for LIFE

I think this liquor store is at 95 East 10th (now Sundaes and Cones), which became the March Gallery a year after this photo in 1957. For added color, here's a bit of artist statement from a 1961 show at the March:

Stanley Fisher: "Anti-art uses all the groping varicose brains of science fiction and the Pin-up cheesecake of the calendar magazines and the gloss of Life and Times and the plush-slush comic strips and the byzantine Boweries of Lower Broadway and the balling Off-Broadway and Buchenwald and H-bombs bopping and the colored condoms of that detention-dimension, Hollywood, and its vomitorium of video."

And here's the block today, where five of the original buildings still stand. The one on the left, where Danal used to be and which is still for rent, housed the Tanager Gallery:


Anonymous said...

Jeremiah, you slay me. I actually walked 10th street looking for that block after seeing the pic on EV Grieve. never occured to me that it was the block between 3rd and 4th. great find and great job.

Ken Mac said...

great pics

Anonymous said...

Really great photos. Nice to see the block before the NYU dorms and the white brick monsters moved in (including the one I live in).

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks guys. hard to imagine another glassy tower here, just up from the astor place monster.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the detective work...I was curious about the signs when I walked by recently. I used to live on St. Marks Place two blocks away, and I was always fond of this little town house. Sad to hear it's going to be a hotel.