Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Vanishings

Every year, at the end of the year, we take a look back at what's been lost over the past 12 months. Some of the losses were big ones, some smaller. In chronological order (more or less), the ones covered here:

The Holiday Cocktail Lounge
After an illustrious history that included literary legends like Allen Ginsberg and W.H. Auden, after a few recent years of struggle, the great Holiday succumbed. It's been gutted and will be turned into a fish n' chips gastropub kind of thing. The Holiday had been here since 1965.

La-Rosa Cigars
This half-century old shop shuttered and left Manhattan for the Bronx, which is not exactly vanishing, but still--it was booted from a prime spot to the periphery.

Atlas Meats
In its never-ending vanishing act, the Meatpacking District demolished this Depression-era building. A glass tower is coming.

After 119 years in business, Manganaro's Grosseria closed their doors and sold their building. After a painful gutting, a restaurant called Tavola moved in. This one hurts like hell.

A Clean Well-Lighted Place
One of the last places on the Rodeo Drive section of Bleecker Street that was not a luxury shopping mall store, this little gallery quietly closed and its space became...a luxury shopping mall store. The gallery had been here since 1976.

World of Video
After 29 years in Greenwich Village, this popular and beloved video store lost its lease.

Chelsea Gallery Diner
The city is losing its diners. Another one fell when the Chelsea Gallery was forced to close after 30 years on 7th Avenue. A sad loss for many in the area.

Bill's Gay 90s
Another especially painful blow, the loss of Bill's Gay 90s was one that should never have been allowed. After 88 years in business, Bill's lost its lease, which was handed over to trendy restaurateur John DeLucie. The place was gutted and upscaled.

Atlas Barber School
With a hiked rent, thanks no doubt to the hideous tower going up at Astor Place, this long-lasting barber school shuttered. It had been in business in Manhattan, and mostly right here, since 1948.

Arleen Bowman Boutique
When A Clean, Well-Lighted Place closed on Bleecker, it left one old-school shop standing. But not for long. After 25 years here, Arleen Bowman was forced to close by rising rent.

Prime Burger
More agony with this one. The wondrous Prime Burger closed after 47 years in business--and its gorgeous decor went with it. The building was sold and the new owner would not give them a manageable deal. An awful loss.

Lascoff Pharmacy
Without much of a peep, the beautiful Lascoff closed on the Upper East Side. Established in 1899, its interior was stunningly cathedralesque. Now it's gutted and gone.

Colony Records
After 60 years of "serving Broadway," Colony Records was given an impossible offer, a quintupled rent of $5 million. It shuttered.

Movie Star News
Opened by the infamous Irving Klaw, sustained by images of the great Bettie Page, Movie Star News was part of Manhattan since 1939. But then the rent went up, and now its space will become a luxury bathroom fixture store.

Lafayette French Bakery
After more than 30 years in the Village, this little (sometimes controversial) bakery was evicted. A trendy restaurant has taken its place.

Mei Dick
Another barbershop fallen, Mei Dick vanished this year, disappointing many photographers who enjoyed its homophonic joke.

Partners & Crime
After 18 years on Greenwich Avenue, this bookshop closed down due to the city's growing lack of interest in books and its passion for pawing at greasy little screens.

University Diner
And another diner gone. I'll miss this one, too. It shuttered after 60 years in business.

El Faro
It was 85 years old, surviving on the glammed-up edge of the Meatpacking District, and then it was gone. This one also really sucks. I keep hoping it will reopen.

9th Avenue Between 17th and 18th
All of the small, beloved businesses in the large, nearly block-long building were evicted this year.

Lucky Cheng's
After nearly two decades of drag, Lucky Cheng's left its dilapidated building in the East Village for Times Square. Again, not exactly a vanishing, but a vanishing--the old Lucky Cheng's and the strange history of its building has come to an end.

Village Chess Shop
They'd been on Thompson Street since 1972. Then they were evicted.

The Stage Deli
Without warning, this 75-year-old landmark closed, leaving many tourists and New Yorkers bereft. 

Lenox Lounge
Today will be its last. I went up for a final drink before the place is taken over and faux-stalgia'd by the Nobu team. The landlord had doubled the rent on this classic space, this gem of Harlem, open since 1942.

So many numbers, so many years. Some of these businesses had been in New York City for over 110 years, others a mere 20, but it adds up. In fact, if you add up all the years in business, just for these businesses listed here (there were plenty more), the total comes to approximately 1,255 years.

In 2012, we lost 1,255 years of history. That's more than a millennium--just gone.

Past year-end reviews:
2011: Businesses, Structures, Food, People


Anonymous said...

I cheered.

You missed "Something Sweet" on First Ave and 11th Street. Great baked goods, wonderful people.

JAZ said...

The tabulation of years of hard work and sweat just flushed down the toilet is sobering.

And on top of all of that, we lost Prof. Neil Smith this year as well.


Bowery Boogie said...

The pace of disappearance is escalating for sure. Definitely felt the uptick in 2012.

EV Grieve said...

Definitely agree on the escalating pace of disappearance ... A tough loss for me was the Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen on St. Mark's Place...

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, the Highliner (which occupied the former Empire Diner) has closed -

I walked by yesterday to find the window blinds pulled, the doors papered over, and signs posted about an auction of all supplies, to be held this Thursday.

laura said...

the food from prime buger looks really good. i wonder when the days of a good burger, cold slaw, nice french toast, coffee......., will be over. looks like fast food, or outragously expensive food. please do a write up on diners/coffee shops that are still w/us. we need all he help we can get.

pennys herb co said...

mom n pop stores are very very rare in the lower east side {been there did it {loved it!!!!!!!
still we would never leave {change change........
bethlehem house of bread bakery n pennys herb co n gen store {my first bakery was $113.75 a month
no one wanted to live here {i swear as my name is kim

laura said...

i lived in the EV when ALL stores were mom & pop. they were either owned by old time polish people or young newer people. 1968-1970.

Greg McQuade said...


I didn't grow up in New York and I've only visited a handful of times, but your list of landmark eateries, watering holes and pharmacies which closed this year left a pit in my stomach. I grew up in Boston and the same thing is happening there. Longtime, independent establishments have/are closing at a rapid pace and are giving way to shiny new corporate digs. Check out the Facebook page "Dirty Old Boston". It is a tip of the cap to lost Boston and the way it was. I think you'll dig it.

The sterilization of Boston, New York and America is troubling.

Keep up the good work, J. I enjoy your work.


Carrie said...

Also, the beautiful bakery Soutine on the UWS closed after over 30 years. Humble, family-owned business, sold to a muffin organization. It is a real tragedy; Madge, the owner hand-baked scones and pastries with whatever fresh berries were available, we went every week and you never knew what would be fresh that day. The damage being done to New York's heritage is not going to be reparable for some time to come, if ever. It's very short-sighted, this land-grabbing.

esquared™ said...

The Plaza Hotel's Oak Room.

Closing of physical media stores: records stores -- Norman's, Gimme Gimme Records, Rockit Scientist, and Big City Records, not to mention the impending closure of Bleecker Bob's; and bookstores -- Harlem's Hue-Man, Partners and Crime, and, albeit a chain, the Barnes and Noble on sixth avenue and 8th st.

And not to mention physical medium itself, the death of Newsweek print.

[Out-of-town friends and family recently visited and asked to be taken to Virgin Megastore in Union Square or Times Square, and told them they closed. They then asked where does one can buy a CD. I told them I usually go up to Canada to get CDs. Records, Brooklyn.]

Anonymous said...

So sad that it is happening not just here, but in metro areas all over the US. It seems like large corporate investors are grabbing everything they can, like the US is a big Monopoly board. Then they build like crazy and raise the rents like crazy (Wow it really is like Monopoly- and it really is like a game to them.) What is going on?

Voyager said...

Whenever I read Jeremiah's posts about this or that business being evicted after 72 years or a lease not being renewed after 30 I wonder, who are these landlords? Why do they get to remain anonymous? Even if the company or person is known, I wish someone could get them to comment, to fess up. All evictions may not be unwarranted, and change is inevitable, but when I see some of these beloved businesses shoved out, it gives me shivers to think of the faceless men and women responsible.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

My 2013 wish for you is to never have to write this list again.

But here we are just a week into January and it's already too late.

However, your documentation is priceless and will only prove to be invaluable for future generations who wonder what they missed.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thank you Goggla. it's so true about 2013, too. it feels like everyone waited until the new year to announce, "we're closing."