Thursday, August 24, 2017

St. Mark's Starbucksed

We knew it was coming, but still. To stroll out of Tompkins Square Park on a hot summer evening earlier this week and see a Starbucks, smack on the corner of St. Mark's and Avenue A, well, it was shocking.

And yet not shocking enough.



To say it doesn't belong there feels right, but "there" isn't there anymore. New York recedes into the past.

Our old pizza place long gone.


Same corner, 2011, Google Maps

And all that came before.

So continues the devolution of authentic to mass-produced, local to globalized, mom-and-pop to corporate monoculture. Call it whatever you want, just don't call it "alive."


Same corner, 1980s, photo by Brooke Smith

How did it begin?

Starbucks was already on Astor Place when they sued local East Village shop Little Rickie in 1999 for selling stickers that changed the words on the Starbucks Coffee logo to say FUCK OFF. Starbucks also sued a number of other local businesses for distributing the stickers, including Alt Coffee on Avenue A. Said the owner of Alt to the Times, "New York City is being mallified and when you start to sterilize things and limit choices, people in the East Village don't like it."

But the people in the East Village have changed since 1999. And the new people like it very much.

Starbucks has 307 locations in the city. (Make that 308.) There’s one every 5.5 blocks in Manhattan. And Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has said he gets many emails from New Yorkers asking for more, more, more.


9 comments:

John M said...

This one really hurts. Like 7-11 pain. But more prominent.

traceyjackson@mac.com said...

Thank God you chronicle this the way you do or there would be no records of all this!

traceyjackson@mac.com said...

Thank god you chronicle all this or there would be no records of what existed.....before.....all this....

Downtowner said...

My earliest memory in life is of being in Leshko's on Avenue A. The day of my Grandmother's funeral - on 7th Street.

Scuba Diva said...

If they're asking for "more, more, more," they probably just want to have clean bathrooms to pee in. Notice how every "city toilet" project has failed miserably? Starbucks is the most reliable city toilet around.

Kevin G said...

And yet, watch. There will be lines out the door filled with transplants newly moved into the condos springing up. Thats the most unnerving part of this whole thing.

John K said...

It's like kudzu. Jeremiah. Has anyone gotten the various New York City Council members on record about the Small Business Protection Act? Are they mum about it? Which City Council members will support it? Also, echoing your great new book, Naomi Klein recently was on a podcast pointing out yet again that neoliberalism is neither natural nor inevitable, though those who impose it on us get us to believe so. The question is, how do we get not just the City Council members but regular New Yorkers (and those who love the city but don't live in NYC) to see that the mallified hypergentrification does not have to happen?

Paul Lessard said...

Nino's has been my favorite pizza since I started hanging out in the LES. Sad but, thankfully I still have my "I love Nino's" shirt, Albeit, on the small side... Sucks but what can ya do?

Bridget Porter said...

The East Village has been unrecognizable for a long time. The saga continues. As painful as it is to read, I'm so grateful that you have taken this on as your mission. I've been living in NYC since 1976. I arrived at age 17. I can't afford to live downtown anymore. But that's where my heart is.