Monday, June 16, 2014

Antiques Garage


We've been hearing about the end of Chelsea's Antiques Garage flea market since 2007. And now, after lost leases, new leases, sales, and financial acrobatics, the end has finally come.

Crain's reports: "After two decades of business and several last-minute reprieves, Chelsea's Antiques Garage has finally set a closure date. The flea market, which began in a parking lot on West 25th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues in 1993, will operate its last weekend on June 28. The site will be developed into a hotel tower."

I have often enjoyed the Antiques Garage, but will let Larry Baumhor from Larry Baumhor Photography's Facebook page wax eloquent about it, as he does so well:

"The Garage has a legacy for collectors and dealers that will never be duplicated. When you walked up and down the ramps at the Garage, you entered a grimy, dilapidated, concrete building that seeped into your pores with its lack of ventilation, and no heat, or air conditioning. You felt a voltage of electricity, with endless possibilities, anticipation, and excitement. You became alive! Your troubles evaporated as you gasped for air in the summer, shivered in the winter, and breathed in carbon monoxide from the cars unloading and packing. Chips and chunks of concrete fell from the ceilings and walls, rats scampered across the floor, and on snowy and rainy days water dripped from the ceiling from the cars parked on the third floor. And yet this was our home, and this was our family. The buyers and sellers were eagerly seduced by the romance of nostalgia and the lure of discovery."

"It was entertaining theatre, a community of artistic and creative people sharing a common bond, a cultural phenomenon. It’s where eccentricities were nurtured, cherished, and admired."

photo: Larry Baumhor

Larry Baumhor takes photos of the people of the Garage and features them on his excellent Facebook page. ("Like" it and see many more there.)

photo of Lynn Yaeger: Larry Baumhor

photo: Larry Baumhor

It's as if all of New York's most glorious freaks, artists, and outcasts, banished and vanished since the late 1990s, re-emerge from hiding each weekend to walk and strut and shop the Garage in all their finery.

Now where will they go when the Garage is gone, replaced by yet another glass box, another hotel for tourists?

photo: Larry Baumhor

photo: Larry Baumhor

And how does a Chelsea real estate broker respond to this sad news, to the loss of yet another place beloved by eccentrics and artists, a place embracing and strange, original and wild?

"This whole area is rapidly changing," said one Aaron Gavios to Crain's. "Schlock is on the way out, and the trendy clothing boutique and restaurant scene is on the way in."


Larry Baumhor's Photography said...

Thanks Jeremiah! I've been photographing and interviewing people at the Garage for over three years. I will have a retrospective on my Facebook page in the coming weeks.

Larry Baumhor

Anonymous said...

After 30 years now of living in NYC, the garage and the flea market on the other side of 6th avenue also on 25th St. were my last lifelines to a city that is in total affluent de-evolution and decline. Why is it that people want to come to New York anymore, for boutique hotels and long lines for specialty food? That's about the size of it, isn't it. These flea markets are some of the last bastions of truth in this town. I knew this was on the table for a while, but with the closing so soon and in the middle of the summer.

Every year there are a few more reasons to NOT live in New York. It's just a shell now. Pointless.

The former Chelsea flea market and the Avenue A/Mary Help of Christians flea markets (both closed for luxury 'redevelopment' by the way) have found new homes, hopefully the same will happen for the garage.

laura r. said...

why does NY need so many hotels? the more hotels the more tourists. the more tourists more crowds.

RBB said...

I park there almost daily during the week. The Antiques Garage is a huge loss for what was once a very funky fringe neighborhood, and the loss of this garage is just as big. With it goes old-school NY parking--they make deals and don't nickel and dime you. Now I'm left going to the corporate sharks and their punch cards. This is a multi-dimensional **** to what is now becoming The Tenth Circle of Tourist Hell.

Mark said...

This stretch of Sixth Avenue is now completely unrecognizable. You could be anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Re Anon 9:41 -- sadly, the relocated Mary Help of Christians flea market is not as good as it was in the old location. Really.

divaraven said...

I bought my first second-hand dress in 1984 as a teen at the now-gone flea market across from the now-gone Billy's Topless. I graduated to the Antiques Garage later and even fought Vera Wang over a vintage rhinestone necklace (no blows, just dueling checks. I guess I wanted it more than she did). Reading this blog always makes me feel like quoting Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner, "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain." Fuck.

Anonymous said...

Non-sequitor: I just saw Rutger Hauer on True Blood and, man, I don't think he needed much make-up to look like an ancient supernatural grandpa... Blade Runner seems as far gone as the Apollo program now... or the sublime Billy's. Double Fuck.

Anonymous said...

Once everything that makes New York a unique and vibrant city is torn down and replaced with generica, what will tourists flock here to see and experience?

Ken Mac said...

This belonged to the "people," so it was doomed in today's NYC

Anonymous said...

I m pretty much done with NYC
I m moving to the country

Trixie said...

No, the Mary Help of Christians flea market, relocated to the Church of the Immaculate Conception nearby is not as good as it once was, but it's there, and if given enough time it should hit its stride. I hope so. I'm rooting for it.

Anonymous said...

You mean this was not a NYU dorm takeover? Please, stop the drug stores, Banks, condo's, Chinese nail parlor's, and Starbuck's from sucking the life out of NYC'S culture. The city is becoming a boring place to live!. What do we have left ? Boring street fairs selling junk and greasy food ? Thank you Antiques Garage and vendors for your service and sacrifice in making NYC a great place to live. You will truly be missed. Mayor Deblasio: Stop the culture destruction of NYC. Please!