Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rizzoli Inside

Rizzoli Bookstore, after 30 years on 57th Street, will be closing its doors tomorrow, its gorgeous building slated for demolition. There is, however, one last chance, as Landmarks considers an application to preserve its interior.

Here's what will be turned to dust by Vornado and LeFrak if Landmarks says no.

The intricately decorated ceiling is loaded with imagery--birds, cherubs, and goddesses, along with winged monkeys tooting horns while riding on the backs of gryphons. No kidding. Well, they look like flying monkeys.

Here's another description: "An explosion of birds, flowers, shells, chimeras, putti riding hippocamps, and maidens dancing to the accompaniment of lyres and harps."

Rizzoli may not return to this space, but the building is worth preserving, and we can't let the developers win another one. Sign the petition to save this building. And check out Rizzoli's 40%-off moving sale -- it ends tomorrow.


historyglass said...

New York City 2071,as the zombie hoards of Google workers march through town with their screens surgically implanted into their corneas things flash and a warm female voice says "here in the early 21st century one of the last book stores in the world closed". "What's a bookstore" says Amit to Kavitha, his googlematched partner for life through digitized gold rings that glow on their screens. "I think it was a place where the second race of Americans gathered together". He blinks twice and more images of humans looking at books flash in front of him, "Oh the analogs were such a strange race of people weren't they Kavitha, who needs things?"

Laura Goggin Photography said...

This makes me sick to my stomach. I have no words.

Anonymous said...

What's next? St.Thomas? St. Pat's? NYPL?

DrBOP said...

We need a new 21st Century definition of insanity.

And "LANDLORD CONTROL ACT of 2014" would also be good.

laura r. said...

this is what communism looks like. welcome to the far east. it all must go for the good of the people. eminent domain rules, just ask your mayor de blasio.

Anonymous said...


That's my new word whenever I see something that makes me shake my head.

It doesn't make sense, I know, but neither does closing this masterpiece of a store.

'Guess New Yorkers don't read anymore.

We must be the biggest joke to London, Paris, Rome etc. now.

Is it possible that any major Midwestern city has more bookstores within city limits tham New York now? I wouldn't be surprised. I bet Chicago has more bookstores than we do.


onemorefoldedsunset said...

How can Landmarks let this beautiful building be torn down? A naive question I suppose, but still...
One of your readers commented about J & R yesterday, and I read today that it's closing - today, I think - and will operate as an online business only. I liked going there, and sitting in their little coffee bar, looking down at the customers come and go.
I know online buying is a reality, but really, if you live in a big city like this, the pleasure is in going, looking, touching, talking, deciding in an actual, live, interesting world, not poring over an online shopping cart. The pleasure is in the atmosphere, the small exchanges, the conversations. And a beautiful store like Rizzoli's - doesn't it making reading feel like a grand, important pursuit?
This is all too sad.

Anonymous said...

I have said goodbye to enough places I love that I have started to become numb when I hear such news but I agree with Goggla--this one makes me physically ill.

My son was born last fall and our family's most meaningful pilgrimages after we brought him home and then again at Christmas were to buy books for him there. I thought so much how happy I was that he could grow up with this magical place as his "home" bookstore. I took him back yesterday one last time and though he was in a grouchy mood, I was the one crying.

Anonymous said...


Don't worry, J&R isn't closing for good, only temporarily. They're completely renovating, almost from scratch, their entire store. It should be reopened within 18 months:

As for Rizzoli's, Landmarks has rejected the last gasp landmarking attempt thusly: "Some original interior fabric remaining from the Sohmer Piano showroom, such as the decorative ceiling and iron railings, was incorporated into the new design. Our review concluded that because there are few remaining elements from the piano showroom era, particularly in comparison with other intact interior landmark spaces like the Steinway Piano showroom on West 57th Street, the site no longer retains the integrity of its original design, and the ca. 1985 redesign of the space does not rise to the level of an interior designation."

Anonymous said...

I find it appalling that the things that make New York interesting and unique are being destroyed at record speeds. I am enraged and sickened every time I see that yet another beloved city institution is going to bite the dust. The Rizzoli is no exception. That beautiful, exquisite interior...

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Thanks, Anon. Yes, I saw more news about J & R today. I wonder what the "unprecedented retailing concept and social mecca" will consist of.

Anonymous said...


And Save Rizzoli replies to LPC thusly:

"As can be clearly seen from this photograph taken circa 1920, the overall first floor design of the space clearly does not date to 1985. The most architecturally significant details of the Sohmer store—the vaulted stucco ceiling and ornamental capitals—still survive in pristine condition.

In 1984, Hard Holzman Pfeiffer Associates renovated the space, most notably, by adding a new glass storefront entrance, a staircase linking the 2nd and 3rd floors, and a balcony extension around the west side of the mezzanine. These additions do not significantly impair the original Sohmer ground floor interior. To deny interior landmark status on the basis that the floor tiles and the chandelier are not original is beyond preposterous. "

Anonymous said...

THE LPC board and their minnions should be overthrown. Such a despicable act of vandalism to destroy this magnificent cathedral to books and reading. Morons all of them. THey should be ashamed of themselves to blantantly lie to please the developers who pull their leases. Robert Tierney is supposedly stepping down soon. By God it cant be soon enough! Good riddance to the fool.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing Rizzoli in the classic movie "Manhattan", and after going to their website, my first thought was, "I hope they last." Due to the cloud of uncertainty that is in the air today regarding cherished locales, there was a certain sense of doom when thinking that, since 57th street has become a dangerous precipice for any institution beyond 30 years.

After hearing this news, my heart broke. To an avid coffee book and architectural lover, this is a deep stab along with a twist of the knife (sorry if I sound so dramatic).

It seems that the developers are keeping an eye out for ANYTHING that is considered classic and beloved to this city's residents, both new and old, with the intent on wiping it out. The closing of Rizzoli has the stink of internal nefarious forces at work.

From what I hear, the grand Steinway Hall may be next:

Platinumroadwarrior said...

I just walked through the Pearl Paint store. Obvious to the naked eye is a place who's owners simply haven't cared in a very long time. The neglect of the property is appalling.

Anyone whom shares their dismay either has a very poor memory or didn't experience Pearl in its almost 30 year reign as the largest and best art supply store in the world. The current Pearl has not been relevant since 9/11, and it was an interesting contrast to drive to the store via 7th Avenue and observe the glory of the new WTC.

The greatness that people on many blogs discuss and embellish was the result of a single person acting as a catalyst between the artists and the art materials' world. Many important art supply brands were born on Canal street; still more were grown from infancy to wide use by a leader who brought together a team of people whom were simply passionate about making a difference. It was a singular location on the planet, not only with the deep and vast assortment of inventory, but also a place where artists "could get out of their head about what was on their mind".

In it's hey day, the store generate north of $35 million in annual sales, in an industry with no $10 million stores. The final tribute appears to be how king the lasting effect was as the store stumbled and slid for the better part of 15+ years; without vision, lacking care and commitment to its roots.

Sadly there have been many casualties in its demise. People and companies have been hurt.

Happily, there are more than a handful of people who bounced back from their departures. Some left the industry as they turned a pages their lives.

A few were able to reinvent themselves in new places. Artists and creative people in the NY-NJ area who shop around will not be surprised at this reveal.

Allen Shefts, who was the leader that attracted and created the team that made it special ( eventually to rise to "CEO" of the chain) has built an amazing art supply store in West Orange, NJ called Jerry's Artist Outlet.

This store is worth the drive (from anywhere).

One of Allen's key floor managers, Kevin Lavin operates daVinci artist materials with two awesome stores in Chelsea.

Stocked with a great assortment and deep inventory, both of these retailers will not disappoint with the level of personal service.

Lastly artists should always consider NY Central Supply, one of the oldest art supply stores in America. With a selection and staff of knowledgeable employees, is continues to amaze artists every day! Family run through three generations, Steve Steinberg's store is an amazing place that has served NY city artists for over 100 years.

All three of these people are amazing individuals who are passionate about art and artists. They are revered within the art supply industry, and this writer has been privileged to spend his professional career in dialogue with them as customers, mentors and friends!

Renée M. said...

I am so sick over this I can't find the words....I am just glad that my mother died in 2001 and missed most of the destruction of anything she loved about her beloved New York, including this. I am actually happy now that I chose to leave the City for New England in the '90s. For a long time I was sad at being 2 hours away from everything I loved, and "Sex and the City" made me want to come back. Now I am happy I am away from New York, because the New York I knew is no longer there and it would hurt too much to have to face that on a daily basis.