Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Goodbye Poppy's

We all know that in a very short amount of time the High Line has had a major impact on west Chelsea. The Times just called it "an economic dynamo" that has raised prices on apartments and pretty much everything else that comes close to it. That dynamo is good for some, and not so good for others.

As the second segment opens tomorrow, I wandered back into Poppy's Terminal Food Shop, up at the uppermost end of the High Line on 10th Ave. and 29th St. A true find, a rare piece of the old city, Poppy's is not Poppy's anymore.


It was sold about six months ago, the counterman told me, though Poppy Livanis still works there. The interior is mostly the same as before, minus one taxidermied deer head, but the sign outside has been whited out and a banner, tangled by the wind, proclaims this space "The High Line Deli." Everybody wants a piece of the action, but how long will this 30-year-old joint last?

Broke-Ass Stuart called it a place gentrification forgot, filled with "freaks, weirdoes, club kids, and lost souls." In New York, Daniel Maurer said "this proletarian corner deli, open since 1981, quietly keeps it real." In short, the former Poppy's is nothing like what the High Liners envision for the neighborhood around their luxury park.

And that goes for this entire world of auto mechanics, flat fixers, gas pumpers, metal scrappers, and taxi medallion salesmen. The High Line will destroy it because it doesn't fit the High Line's image.



foresees restaurants, shops and diversions in the area, given that the once-scruffy, quasi-menacing southern end of the High Line is now a haute shopping and real estate festival that condominium advertisements call 'the prestigious High Line District.'"

In sum: Go say goodbye to Poppy. And try the Gyros Platter. Explore the neighborhood before the prestige bulldozes everything in its path.

Google Maps--circa 2009?

See Also:
The Upper High Line
New High Line


Anonymous said...

Is it possible that real estate prices in the vicinity of the HighLine have gone up in the two years since it opened because we're coming out of a recession (sort of) and because there's lots of new construction in the Meatpacking Madhouse because that's where every twit seems to want to live?!

While not a patron of Poppy's, I prefer a place with character to a sterilized "nouveau Chelsea" establishment geared toward the younger, moneyed brand-conscious set. Give me back my neighborhood please!

That "Lot" thing looks like a church block party fair with inflatable ugly things going up. Curated food trucks? Oh please. I'm getting sick of those too-cool-for-you trucks, too. Give me my Mexican food trucks with hand-lettered signs and character over this fabulousness any day!

Can't decide if I want to read JVNY every morning and choke on the news or if I should remain blissfully ignorant of the devastation and Starbucks-ization of FranchiseVille!

Anonymous said...

We're mourning tire shops? Really? These were all part of a force that destroyed the fabric of NYC in a way the High Line never will. I have mixed feelings about the High Line, but I don't have mixed feelings about the auto-centric streets nearby. In a city built for people, spaces that aren't fit for people don't deserve to be mourned.

The High Line, despite its flaws, is a space for people and as such is 'more New York' than any tire shop. You can find tire shops in any city or suburb in America. Will we be mourning all the McDonalds chains when their day comes?

Caleo said...

The juggernaut just can't stop shoveling the remaining scraps of old New York into it's gaping maw.
I used to eat at Poppy's back in the early 2000's when working in landscaping. The guy who drove our delivery van introduced me to it. He also introduced me to a place called Espinals on the upper East side, in the 70's around Second Ave. I'll have to check and see if it's still there, and give Poppy a visit before Leviathan uses him as a toothpick to clean the detritus of old New York out of it's teeth.

JAZ said...

Why is it that the second I see the word 'artisinal', the word 'gentrification' instantly pops into my head?

Katrink said...

New York is looking more and more like it's built of Legos. Depressing. I haven't been to the High Line yet and I doubt I ever will.

JimVB said...

Not trying to be an asshole here, truly, but I'm not seeing how the High Line needs to be derided over Poppy's make-over. Surely, the same ""freaks, weirdoes, club kids, and lost souls" who've been frequenting the place since forever, could still find their way there to eat their fill of gyros platters. It's not like there's a check-point anywhere. If anything, it seems to me the previous owner took advantage of an opportunity. I mean, look, the place is essentially the same, right? The very same. Absent the deer head. And seriously, man, those sorry-ass shops along Tenth, north of the projects-- I'm sorry, but I can't shed a tear for their going.

Let me ask you this: when those hideous fkn shops between B'way and Sixth Ave, in the high twenties and thirties, which all sell the same knock-offs of designer perfumes and poorly made clothing (probably manufactured in a hellish sweatshop somewhere, using child labor), finally, blessedly disappear, are you going to bemoan their absence? Are you really? Will you be looking for something to blame? How about maybe blaming the shitty stores themselves? I understand that doesn't fit into your m.o., but still.

Look, you bring attention to a very complicated situation in this city which affects us all, and I applaud you for that. But sometimes you carry this meme to an absurd conclusion.

On my way home tonight (to chelsea) I may stop by the HighLine Deli and grab myself a gyros platter, just to show my bona fides. Peace.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Poppy's makeover isn't due to the High Line, but i think to the owner just wanting to retire. i do believe it won't be there for much longer, though.

the High Line is speeding up the cultural changes wherever it goes.

on June 19, the High Line visitors will be looking directly down onto Folsom St. East, where half-naked queer people in leather will be beating each other with whips. how much longer will that be tolerated by the powers that be?

the "edge" gets pushed further to the edge and then it falls off the map entirely.

iatee said...

Unless the map includes the 4 other boroughs.

Caleo said...

After reading some other comments I wanted to respond by saying I can't believe anyone who has ever been to 10th ave. could possibly compare the chop shops/ tire shops to some PEP BOYS national chain in suburbia. Now, you don't have to like them by any means ( although i do like them ), but they were definitely another aspect of the city's periphery.
Until the early aughts, the entire West side Highway was lined with similar establishments, as well as some great diners, all since long gone. These were small businesses that served a real function and employed hundreds of mechanics. All gone. But that's what makes up a REAL CITY. It was another aspect of working class New York that is quickly being pushed out, as the Meat Packing district was.
The new and improved HighLine will never be able to replace that, no matter how well intentioned it was at it's inception. Just my 2 cents.

iatee said...

There are plenty of REAL CITYs in the world that don't have chop shops taking up space in the densest part of the metropolitan area. In fact I would say "all of them" but that depends on your idea of "real city."

In the other boroughs and Jersey there are countless places to go fix your car. Outside of Manhattan there isn't anything comparable to the High Line. You don't have to like it, but the High Line is probably the most "New York" thing going these days, "New York" being a place that also exists in 2011, where new things still happen. (Yes yes I know this is a rip-off of something in Paris.)

NYC existed before cars. 10th avenue existed before cars. No agent caused more 'vanishing' than the automobile. In mourning a chop shop, you're not mourning the death of NYC, you're mourning the death of an unfortunate aspect from one particular era of NYC - the era when the automobile took over. That was not the natural state of of Manhattan, that's not where the city came from and thankfully, that's not where the city is going.

Anonymous said...

iatee, great response. the trouble with this blog is that it picks and chooses its idea of authenticity without a deeper grounding of urban theory. anything with an old sign and a 99c hotdog/haircut/videocassette is good enough for jeremiah.

imagine, today, if a string of shitty shops replaced a much-enjoyed urban park. that would truly be a tragedy. but instead a park replaces shitty shops. wwjjd? celebrate.

jeremiah, admit that you hate certain kinds of people, and that's it. it would clarify things.

Caleo said...

I understand your point, although 10th avenue can hardly be described as the densest part of Manhattan.
It was actually one of the least dense and low scale parts of the city. And by REAL CITY I meant mixed use, including thousands of family owned businesses. And if you think other cities don't have auto body shops on the edge of the city, then you have been to many cities.
And yeah, change is implicit in the natural order of things. But replacing everything with a uniform blandness meant to cater to hordes of SWPL'S, well that's not progress. But it's happening anyway, no matter what anyone here says, so let us poor fools have a moment to reflect on it all.

Jeremiah Moss said...

this quote from Neil Smith says it all about the High Line and its purpose: "gentrification has changed tremendously since the ’70s and ’80s. It’s really a systematic class-remaking of city neighborhoods...it’s about creating entire environments.”

that's what the High Line is for. that's why it was greenlighted by the city. it's a juggernaut for creating an entire environment, to systematically remake a neighborhood for a certain class.

if the rest of us can enjoy it, that's a happy byproduct--and good PR. but let's not be in denial about this just because the High Line is pleasant to walk along. that would be too simple.

iatee said...

Jeremiah, the High Line project started thanks to community activists. It was not planned from above as a systematic remake of a neighborhood. You want an example of that, sure, they exist, look at Willets Point. But this High Line renaissance was more of a happy accident, which began as a way of re-using a historic object rather than tearing it down. You should at the very least celebrate that, if you're gonna live up to your blog's ideal.

I like your blog and read it regularly, but sometimes it just seems like you want this city frozen in time in the 70s. Just because a parking lot happened to exist in Manhattan at some period in history doesn't mean that it's worth saving. And if building tall apartment buildings and parks = gentrification, then the city's glory years involved a hell of a lot more 'gentrification' than is happening right now.

And you know, I really don't care if they're only going to be luxury buildings - if we don't build luxury buildings fast enough, I'm going to be priced out of Queens. People want to live here and are going to move here. That means the only way to avoid pricing people out is by developing new parts of the city.

Caleo - by densest part of the metro area I meant "Manhattan"

Jeremiah Moss said...

interesting, the idea to save Queens by luxing all of Manhattan--it's only a matter of time before the locusts come to devour all of Queens, too. what do you give it, a decade at the most?

Grand St. said...

I call BS on this whole idea that auto age New York City wasn’t its “natural state.” Of course, it wasn’t optimal, but are we better off with 45 million tourists per year (a 50% increase from 1990) and infrastructure designed for them, combined with a related assault from opportunistic developers?

I live in the neighborhood and the High Line is largely a tourist/development magnet, not a functional park. Nobody goes there to throw a ball, jog or walk a dog. Visitors go there to capture a digital image of a flower next to a brick wall and eat a $5 ice cream cone. (The nearby Hudson River Park is a much greater service to the community, IMO.)

As an agent for development, whether or not it was set up form the top down, the City couldn't be more pleased. I heard Seth Pinsky on NY1 yesterday crowing that the High Line had, thus far, generated $2 billion in “economic activity” (a/k/a condo after condo surrounding the thing).

I give iatee points for an unabashed NIMBYism, but it’s clear that he/she could care less what befalls Manhattan residents. Fine, but at least consider that 'parks' running to the benefit of developers and tourists, not City residents, may be as ‘unnatural’ as garages on 10th Ave. So forgive some of us for not cheering.

Must be nice for you on a daily basis that the tourist hordes largely don't know a thing about Queens.

iatee said...

It's not cool to admit it, but ya know, tourists are great. People from around the world want to come to your city, spend lots of money (creating countless jobs - hotels, museums, transportation etc. ) and what do they ask for in return? Directions? For those reasons, places spend lots of money trying to attract tourists. NYC is blessed with having the kind of appeal it has. Do you really not want to deal with tourists? Move to a boring city. The greatest urban areas on the planet are teeming with tourists, for good reason. I'm not happy tourists don't come to Queens, I actually think they're missing out.

As far as the High Line goes, you can't really fault them for "nobody goes there to throw a ball" but I agree that it's not a great place to jog or walk a dog. Truthfully, I don't particularly dig the High Line's artsy concrete aesthetic. The Parisian park that it is based on is very much the neighborhood-y type of place you'd go to walk a dog. That's partly due to its location within Paris (relatively middle class, not really near any tourist traps) - but also due to the fact that they landscaped it better. Were it possible to construct the High Line in a middle class outer borough neighborhood it might have turned out to be a much better place to go for a walk.

and I don't have Queens NIMBYism, quite the contrary. I'm fine with them building dense condo buildings and elevated parks on this side of the river. In fact, I think it would be better for the city if more of it happened on this side of the river. It's not that I "could care less what befalls Manhattan residents" - there's just a certain process here that's essentially inevitable - when lots of people want to move somewhere it's going to get increasingly expensive. And the solution isn't to keep undesirable parts of the city undesirable forever, it's to significantly expand housing in desirable neighborhoods + and create new desirable neighborhoods. And building things on top of parking lots is always the best place to start.