Thursday, August 11, 2011

Olympia Garage


I've been watching the Meatpacking District's Olympia parking garage for a long time now. With Pastis on one side and luxury renovations all around, this scruffy survivor has worn the heavy look of doom. Still, it seemed to be doing well. Shopaholics need a place to park their Escalades, after all.


This week, however, scaffolding has gone up over the Olympia and its doors are shut. I called the number and got a "disconnected" message.


The blog Paper and String confirms that after 35 years of business here the Olympia Garage has closed. They write, "Our sources say the rent has increased fivefold and Olympia Garage will not be seeking another location. We were told the Olympia was already becoming dissatisfied with the big changes that came (and are coming) to the Meatpacking District."

Through the window, a few abandoned car keys still hang on the board. The calendar pages are turned to July. The telephones have been ripped out.


I always liked the garage and took several photos of it over the recent years. Seeing this scrappy behemoth in the midst of all that glitter made me happy. I liked the signage. I liked seeing the working men out front, relaxing in their chairs, while the girls went by in high heels paying no attention. I liked that it was sticking it out next to Pastis, as if thumbing its nose at the mind-numbing changes. I liked that it was surviving.


There has been a garage in this spot since at least 1921, according to the Certificate of Occupancy. And before that, before cars, it stabled horses. "It operated as the Radio Garage and Avenue Garage until the 1940s, then as the Gansevoort Garage (Leo and Frank Calarco) and Olympia Garage," says the Landmark Designation Report.

In this NYPL photo from 1940, you can see the Avenue Garage in its spot. It really never changed much.


This is how things have changed in the city. One man's horse stable becomes another man's garage and then another man's garage. Decades go by. Here that rate of change continued for over 90 years. But in the 2000s, every long-time business must be wiped out, almost instantaneously, to complete the unbroken monoculture of the nouveau luxury neighborhoods booming all around them.

So what's coming next? Paper and String says it'll be a Moroccan restaurant.



Bowery Boogie said...

wipe out the old for a high-end tenant that oftentimes lasts, at most, two years.

kim said...

I took a photo of this garage last summer. Still remember the retired fan resting by the front window.

JAZ said...

I love how they rid the Meatpacking District of the daily garbage pails of rotting meat, the dark old parking garage and the S&M clubs - so that the area is safe for 'edgy boutiques'.

And somehow this is all done with a straight face.

Anonymous said...

I too have taken pictures of this garage when in the city. I loved the balance of colors created by years of fading from bright to medium to...

Tim said...

This is right on the money:

"wipe out the old for a high-end tenant that oftentimes lasts, at most, two years."

Gino's is a great example--how long will another cupcake joint really last? and when it's gone, the zebra wallpaper will really be gone forever. The turnover of places nowadays just blows my mind...

Marty Wombacher said...

And another one bites the dust. Sad.

Jeremiah Moss said...

it's as if there's a collective arbiter deciding what's acceptable for Manhattan (and much of Brooklyn) and what is not. if it's on the NO list, it just goes.

the YES list:
-crappy and middle-American national chains
-luxury chains
-restaurants beloved by foodies
-high-end indie businesses opened by young people with trust-fund monies, providing luxury and leisure goods (ice cream, coffee, etc.)

the NO list:
-everything else