Friday, August 4, 2017


The heart of old Music Row has been just been cleared for demolition.

Fast Company reports:

"The former site of Manny’s Music at 156 West 48th Street in Manhattan has been approved for demolition, according to a city permit issued last month. It’s a final nail in the coffin for the legendary music store that served as a mecca for generations of musicians and once stood as the crown jewel of New York’s famed Music Row."

Manny's was here since 1935 and closed in 2009. It was a mecca for musicians famous and not. Then Music Row started getting murdered. One after another, the shops shuttered, replaced by Dunkin Donuts or nothing at all. Rudy's Music Stop and Alex Accordion were the last to go.


I walked along that block of West 48th a few weeks ago to see what had become of it.

The name MANNY'S embedded in the doorstep was oddly missing. It had been cemented over. Why? The only reason I can think of to do such a thing is to "scalp" the building, a tactic used by developers when they don't want a building landmarked before they can demolish it.

Manny's was not landmarked.

*UPDATE: Chris writes in the comments: "I heard from a trusted source that the MANNY'S terrazzo at the front door was removed and taken to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland."


According to Fast Company:

It was "unclear if the former Manny’s site would even rise to a level city officials would consider worthy of such protection. A spokeswoman for the landmarks commission told me the agency has not received any requests to evaluate the building."


Unknown said...

I spent many hours hanging out there became friends with a lot of the sales guys who ALWAYS had great tickets to concerts one day guess who walks in? Pete Toenshend by himself we start talking about SGs etc then he buys a couple and strolls out
I was kinda stunned lol

John K said...

Anyone want to take bets (for no money) on how many stories the luxury tower they throw up on this site will be? 20? 25? 40? 70? 100? Also, which luxury chain do you think will get the ground floor $30K/month (or more) rental? Because the one thing New York needs is another Aesop, right?? Another L'Occitane? Another By Chloe or Shake Shack?

Philip said...

This block is more depressing to me than any other example of our Vanishing NY. Used to be so full of life and music. Distinctive and special Now it's just a void.

RMAN said...

I remember walking up and down 48th when all the shops were still swinging, even the accordion shop was crowded.
This street was a huge part of NYC's soul - now it will be demolished for good and all traces removed.
How frickin sad is that? Sad enough to make me want to leave for good - too much of the good is going away or gone.
I know all cities change, but this town is not even a shadow of its former self - it's a bastardized version of a disney theme park with only traces of reality and fun for those who can afford the ticket.

I'll miss this street from my youth. Back in the day this was the place to go to get an instrument and maybe catch a celebrity doing the same. peace yo

RogerHouston said...

even if it's a nondescript storefront, how does the Landmark Commission miss a place like this? More importantly, what happened to the yellow Danelectro they made you try out amps & pedals with?

Unknown said...

Very and sadly well said
Bloomberg destroyed Manhattan with rezoning and DeBozo
Is in a fog about everything
In the early 90s it seemed that NYC might become at least a fairly nice place to live
Now it's like a HUGE MALL

Tal Hartsfeld said...

It appears the whole of NYC altogether is playing one "swan song" after another.
The wrong kind of music, to be sure. Not exactly a "favorite song".
But it's not just NYC's "music row", but eventually all of NYC.
And it's not just NYC either, but eventually all of the U.S. cities as well.
And not just the U.S., but all the other western countries ........

Sensible Development said...

As what many would consider "old" people, we've been watching the series on DVD, Expanse, and there are renditions of NYC in the future. As the younger generation comes to power, most if not all of NYC's historic past will be replaced. It's a sad state of affairs for those of us with memories, but it's the way of the world. As a self-professed "luddite", I too mourn what was but am working on accepting what is or is not the future of what is left of our world. Time marches on as the saying states. Architectural history will one day comment on the losses. Keep up the good work documenting the changes. Your efforts are appreciated by many.

Downtowner said...

The loss of music row on 48th is one of the hardest to swallow. I remember going to Manny's to talk keyboards with the guys there. I bought my first digital piano at Sam Ash there, too. Used to buy sheet music on the block all the time.

Now we have Guitar Center on 14th with its lousy staff and B&H selling instruments right across the street from the new Sam Ash on 34th. The old musical soul of Midtown is dead.

Unknown said...

I agree with Downtowner. Over the years I bought several basses and amps in Manny's, Sam Ash (before they opened the little satellite stores on the north side of W48), and Terminal. It was regular haunt for me and one that I enjoyed immensely. On the north side where there is now a garage, once stood "We Buy Guitars," where Fred Smith (bass player from Television) used to work behind the counter). If you look very closely you can still see where the letters were once affixed to the light-colored brick.

In this world of TD Banks, overpriced muffin emporiums, and other chain-store outfits, relative newcomers to NYC have no idea what they missed.

Unknown said...

I heard from a trusted source that the MANNY'S terrazzo at the front door was removed and taken to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

XXX said...

Very sad that Manny's is gone. I used to work near there and on my lunch hour go over, walk in, marvel at all the pictures and autographs on the wall. Then pick up a guitar and play for an hour. What a great place with rich music history. Such a mix on genres too. You'd see a kid with a Mohawk chatting with a classical pianist or jazz guitarist. No place like that to congregate anymore. I feel sorry for the generations that will miss out on this. Gladly I bought a guitar from there just before it closed and cherish and play it. Thank you Mannys!

Unknown said...

I guess I escaped Manhattan just in time. Left in 2007, every time I come back into the city I'm greeted by new corporate takeovers of some of my favorite neighborhoods. The loss of Manny's was quite symbolic for musicians. It basically says that if you're a musician, forget living in the city. It's nearly impossible to live in NYC, even in Brooklyn or Queens, as a musician. Even in the late 90s and 2000s, it was day gig + hustling every single little 50$ gig one could find to just barely break even. I'm originally from Kansas City and out there musicians are living the life, and don't have to have a day gig.

EscapeFromNY said...

Lifelong NYer here, grew up in Yonkers, lived in Manhattan from '89 to '99, East 44th and 2nd Ave, then back to Westchester because the rents were already exploding by then. Hated commuting to the city, so got another job up here. Went to my first concert at MSG to see Kiss in 1979 and again in 1980 at the Palladium.....remember the Palladium? Remember when 14th Street was the seedy gateway to the East and West Village? I even remember the last days of the High when trains still ran on it and when 12th Ave was still cobblestone and the old West Side Highway El was still above it. Since then you've had 18 wheelers, which never ever belonged on these streets, clogging up traffic for the past 4 decades. There's so much of the old NY that's's kinda heartbreaking.

As a guitarist and rocker myself, Sam Ash and Manny's were the staples of that Hell's Kitchen neighborhood and there were several recording studios around there too. I'd be surprised if any of those studios, like the Powerstation, are even still there. Thing is technology, yuppies, and the smoking ban many years ago killed underground rock n roll and most of the dive venues where we could perform.

The Yuppy Harvard grads frown upon artists and eccentrics that used to roam this city and make it an exciting, dangerous, and vibrant place. Starting in the mid-Guiliani years, the people wanted security instead of freedom and as many know, you can have one or the other but you can't have both.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Thanks Chris for that intel on the doorstep. I'll add it to the post.

Downtowner said...

Chris' comment about the doorstep seems possible - if you look at the replacement concrete, it appears level with the sidewalk, which at least suggests the old stone name was removed and filled in to even out with the sidewalk, rather than be covered over.

Rodin said...

In the early folk revival sixties my mother and I shopped at Manny's for my guitar. I was taking lessons at the 3rd St Music School on 4th St. off of Second Ave. I still have the guitar.

Hostirad said...

Really sad to read this. I bought my Leslie at Manny's in the early 70s and my bandmates also bought equipment there. It was worth the drive from State College PA. I was hoping to see the terrazzo today during my visit to NYC. What a shame.

robbi said...

bought ma first electric guitar there in 1971...was a Gibson Sg Standart with a Lyra and paid 160 $ for it...still own it.What a shame shops like this that had been so important for generations of musicians disapear nowadaysone after the other.