Wednesday, May 8, 2013

301 West 46th

Readers have been sending in the news that 301 West 46th Street, after years of lingering in limbo, is about to fall.

today the scaffolding has gone up all the way, photo: Allen S.

The building on 8th Avenue between 46th and 47th was shuttered around 2008 and wrapped in scaffolding, ready for demolition. At the time, a 38-story glass tower was planned to rise here, including a "375-room hotel, 35 units of condominiums, and amenities that include bar, lounge, meeting rooms, swimming pool and an automated parking garage system." It was to be completed in 2010, but then the market crashed.

Berg Flynn, architectural rendering

The lender foreclosed on the developer. In 2011, the property was acquired by Glenwood Management for $76.3 million. And still nothing happened.

The building sat empty--all its residents and businesses long evicted--a ghost of Hell's Kitchen past, and a reminder of the future to come.


The 19th-century building boasts a compelling history, as many old New York buildings do. Author David Freeland recently unearthed that history at his blog Gotham Lost & Found.

He describes The Cave of the Fallen Angels, the speakeasy that once inhabited the basement, replaced in the 1960s by Steve Paul's The Scene, a celebrated rock venue where you could find Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Andy Warhol, and many other scenesters of the day.

For a look inside The Scene, check out the 1970 documentary Groupies (12-minute mark). Steve Paul passed away last fall, and whatever moved into that basement after The Scene, we don't know.


Upstairs, there were a couple of adult video stores and the Collins Bar, which had a nice piece of neon signage out front. New York wrote of the bar, "The pimps, dealers and pool sharks who haunted this worn, woody bar back when it was Lady Anne's Full Moon Saloon have found different stomping grounds (Riker's Island, most likely). Now, aside from a few leftover old men who've been continually three sheets to the wind since the early '80s, the clientele is mostly young professionals."

Of Lady Anne's, Anthony Bourdain wrote: "where the smell of Lysol and vomit distracted one from the recently released convict population playing pool on the warped table in the rear."


Over its century of life, the building had its moments--a place for pimps, groupies, prostitutes, rock stars, and furtive peep-booth masturbators.

Soon, another glass tower will rise here, a clone to match the one that rose right across the avenue on the grave of McHale's, and the giants that will come to the empty lot on the opposite corner, and the Shake Shack one that felled the Playpen just to the south. On and on it goes. So many glass towers with nothing much to say for themselves.

Now I worry about the tenements on the next block north, the New York Inn with its gorgeous ghost signage advertising steam-heated rooms and savory cigars. The residents of the new hotel/condo tower will look out on those scuzzy bricks from their floor-to-ceiling windows and they won't be pleased. Another demolition will be set in motion.


thegaycurmudgeon said...

They won't stop until every fucking corner of Manhattan has a fucking high-rise on it. Because that's what the current zoning laws say you're allowed to do.

Anonymous said...

It looks like a bunch of "warehousing" is going on between 47th and 48th and 9th.... not to mention the weekend Hotel/temp leases offered in those apartment spaces that are helping to clear out permanent residents. I think the short term weekend leasing is what will get us all in the end.

JAZ said...

Nothing the new guard hates more than a property with real-deal New York history.

And meanwhile the national candy store chain It's Sugar just opened a store on Stillwell & Surf; basically a block over from the great old school Williams Candy in Coney Island.

Quote from It's Sugar CEO Jeff Rubin: "Our candy stores are not your typical 'old fashioned and stale' stores, but more of a hip and cool place..."

Here we go again.

Anonymous said...

I prefer "scuzzy bricks" to modern architecture any day of the week. There is more beauty in the original building than in those architectural renderings of what is soon to be.

Anonymous said...

Fuck all this new shit!

Thank you for posting 'Groupies'. Thought I had seen all the obscure docs from the 60s but I've never heard of this one. Amazing! Alvin Lee (RIP) is so fucked up.

I've said this a million times before but New York in the 60s must've been absolutely amazing. People can criticize that time as being one full of naive, stoned people, but they were having far more fun, and doing far more real things than what young people do today. Regardless of the fact that they were high all the time, it seems to me that at least initially the idea behind drug use (mind expansion) was an intellectual one. Yeah, there was actually some thought behind it. Not condoning drugs here, but that culture had far more to offer in terms of art, literature and media than now. Kids still get fucked up today, but doing it in expensive clothing and sitting in some ridiculous night club with bottle service pales in comparison to watching Ten Years After joyfully lose their shit during one of their performances. Please. Which scenario would you choose?

laura said...

i have a history w/that building. the "scene" summer of 1966, tiny tim etc. it was the alternate place for "ondines". i was friendly w/steve paul, nice guy. then in 1998, i had dinner somewhere near by w/some friends from the area (an italian place, on 9th ave). they loved to hang out @the rendezvous. we went there afterward for coffee, & watched the sailors walk by. i still have instamatic photos of the cafe. NYC is looking like a cross between hong kong/ mexico city, & the w/the box chainstores: suburbia. i can accept renovating & refinishing those older buildings, but keeping the character. i can even accept the businesses moving, though i dont like that. but to knock them down? what happend to the height rule? that area had zoning laws. new york is losing it, its just another generic world city. im taking a zanex, bye now.

laura said...

i have began to watch the doc "groupies"- they paved the way for "sex in the city" &" girls" what was considered wild those days for women is normal now. the average 14 yr old is whoring around & thats every social class. dont forget the 60's were really conservative. dont know any of the people in this film, so far. what i dont "get" is all that effort put into chasing the boys. when i was 13 14 15 16 17 18 19, all i had to do was stand there & had invites.

David Freeland said...

Jeremiah, thanks for the mention. I expect the building will be down in a few weeks. I wonder often how other New Yorkers in generations to come will dig up the histories of these kinds of cultural sites. For me, the window to a deeper exploration has always been the building, however defaced or modified. But with an empty lot, or replacement tower, what can we use as a starting point? How will future New Yorkers even know something was ever there?

Anonymous said...

I live in the neighborhood and I worked for the census in 2010. At that time there were still squatters living in the building.

laura said...

anon 1:31, these people were no bodies. this was the most boring film i have seen. except for pam debarres & andrea whips (the only 2 pretty girls), i never heard of these people. C-D list @ best, trashy stupid girls, i dont see your point. these were the girls who couldnt get in the good clubs. i reconize the name of 2 of the bands, thats it. (the voices are awful, no singing ability). i lived in NY @ this time, & have no memory except i did read about the "plaster casters". (there was one band member who did have some good things to say). the girls were stupid white trash. as we speak they are walking across a parking lot, w/there big bellys wearing sweatpants. they were hicks, end of case. no different than the drunk kids from jersey visiting the EV on memorial day weekend.

JMe82080 said...

According to New York Songlines, before the Collins Bar was Little Annie's Full Moon Saloon, it was the Show and Tell porn theatre, where Travis Bickle hit on the concessions girl in the beginning of Taxi Driver. She was played by DeNiro's future wife Diahne Abbott. So much great art, architecture and history are being lost in these old buildings. Such a shame.

Tones said...

Actually there weren't. My family was the last ones to leave and we left May 2009.
We just boned their money dry so they kept people around but no one lives there.

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

I lived there in the 1970's. On the top floor also. 5B. any idea who the owner or landlord of the building was?

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

Wilbert Laza, Do you have ny pictures of inside the apartment??

WillR said...

My mom grew up in this building from 1944 to 1954. She was 4 years old when she boarded a Rice Boat (Cargo Vessel) with my grandmother from San Juan, Puerto Rico under threat of German U Boats.
She recalls that the building once housed an Orthodontist and a Mexican Restaurant named Chapultepec.
My grandparents opted to live cramped but in a good area and even paid for her to attend Parochial School at Holy Cross. She recalls sitting on the stoop of the elegant structure to watch the dapper theater district patrons parade in their fashions.
At the time she recalls that shoppers would still leave their babies unattended in their carriages outside shops!
She would also Ice Scate at Rockefeller Center..

Unknown said...

I lived in apartment 5A and i use to sit on that same you for sharing her memory

Unknown said...

Full Moon Saloon was where the real huslers of 8th ave hung out , lots of Coke and violence, miss that place and the Bar Maids in Body suits, R.I.P.Neil the night manager , Vinny, Chris , Angel , save a hit for me ,Irish Mike

SMA3 Mama said...

Did anyone here about a body being found in this building back in 2003? It was buried under a large concrete block in the basement? Oddly enough wearing some fairly pricey jewelry.