Monday, April 22, 2019

Whisked Away

In Williamsburg, the Whisk kitchenware shop is being driven out by a massive rent hike. They've only been around for a decade, but even these newer small businesses get the boot by the big hyper-gentrification machine.



Free Williamsburg has the story. In the owner of Whisk's own words:

"It is a story of greed, commercial banking and the distortion of 'fair' market rents.

When we opened Whisk on November 26, 2008, our rent was $8,625/month; it ended at $18,452/month. The thing is, we could sustain that high rent. We are a great, busy store and online retailers have not cut into our sales enough to hurt us. But to renew our lease for just 5 years, our landlords asked for no less than $26,500/month, or a 44% increase. To accept that rent would mean increasing prices and depressing wages. And that’s not the contribution I want to make.

So how did it come to be that it’s $26,500 or leave? I believe the story goes like this:

Developers identify Williamsburg as the cool place to be. Developers seek loans to amass more land ownership. Banks underwriting these mortgages demand to know payments can be met via higher rent rolls. 'We like chain stores for tenants,' they say. Williamsburg businesses shift from independent, unique services to large American and multinational businesses seeking to grow their brand. Can’t actually pay the high rent demand? 'No matter,' say these businesses. 'It’s an advertising investment!' Private equity supported brands want in; food chains want in; heck, all the banks want in! Big landlords are happy and finally so too are the small landlords who can now say “me too!” on high rent demands."

There are solutions--but we have to take control.

Trattoria Spaghetto

VANISHED

About a month ago, Trattoria Spaghetto on Carmine and Bleecker abruptly shuttered. It was a good place.



In 2015, I worried about them. They told me they had 15 more years on their lease. I guess not.

As I wrote at the time, "Trattoria Spaghetto is a good place for lunch in the off hours, on a weekday. It's quiet. There's an old woman who sits by the door in a turban. She knows everyone and everyone knows her. She laughs and talks about the weather. Over the speakers, the music is Queen, nothing but Queen."

I was worried about the restaurant because its building was purchased by Force Capital Management, a Park Avenue hedge-fund that bought the building in 2012. They put out Avignone Chemist, in business since 1832, replacing it with a sweetgreen, one of the salad chains that follows the discriminatory practice of not taking cash. (At the time, DNA reported that Force wanted $60,000 a month for the space.)



What's coming to Spaghetto's spot? A tipster points us to a document that says it will be Dig Inn, another chain that's all about green things. Except cash. Like sweetgreen, they're (mostly) cashless.

New York is currently considering a move to ban cashlessness. Councilmember Ritchie Torres introduced the legislation in February and it is supported by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Cashless businesses are discriminatory, shutting out the poor. Of course, that's exactly what the New New York aims to do, building by building, business by business.





Smashed Links

Not happy with those intrusive and distracting LinkNYC kiosks? You're not alone. Along 8th Avenue in Chelsea, someone has been smashing LinkNYC screens with a cobble stone.



The apparent rage is understandable. With their video advertisements, dumb cartoons, and repetitive quotations, the digital pylons continually rob our attention. Walking down the street, on every block, your thoughts are interrupted by the flashing screens, violating your right to keep your attention where you want it.

Do we have a right to our attention? Jasper L. Tran has written, "We own and are entitled to our attention because attention is a property right and part of our individual dignity. Yet advertisement companies and scam artists freely bombard us with their 'products' daily, resulting in our own time and monetary loss." Jon Danaher at Philsophical Disquisitions calls it a "right to attentional protection."

LinkNYC violates that right. As we all know, it's hard to keep your eyes from flicking to a screen. (Clay Shirky once compared the contagious mental distraction of screens to second-hand smoke.)

The intrusion potentially goes deeper. With their microphones, bluetooth beacons, and cameras, the kiosks may "represent a troubling expansion of the city’s surveillance network," collecting information as New Yorkers pass by.



And who owns LinkNYC? As RethinkLink points out, it's basically Google -- via consortiums and companies like Titan and Control (real names), and something called Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Google and headed by Dan Doctoroff, former deputy mayor of New York City for economic development under Bloomberg. This guy. The one who helped bring us Hudson Yards.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the smashed Links are in Google's neighborhood, clustered around its Chelsea location.



So who is our LinkNYC smasher? Is the smashing politically motivated? Is it a cry for our attentional rights? Or just a random act of vandalism?


Friday, April 12, 2019

St. Denis Down

In Jonathan Richman's song "Springtime in New York," there's a line that goes "When demolishing a building brings the smell of 1890 to the breeze." That's the smell you catch as you approach the destroyed St. Denis on Broadway and 11th Street. Only, in this case, it's the smell of 1853, the musty death of a great New York building.



I was fortunate to occupy the St. Denis, if only for a little while. It gave me peace and stability, and connected me to a deep and illustrious history. (I wrote about that extensively for the New York Review of Books.)

Now it's gone. Killed by greed.



Through the dirty plastic windows in the plywood wall, you can see the pile. The sturdy timbers that once held the place together. A pair of elevator doors suspended in open space. Bricks shaped and fired at the Hutton Brick Company up in Kingston.

(Though Hutton is often dated to 1865, 12 years after the St. Denis was built. Mr. Hutton once told a reader of the New York Times to keep the bricks for sentimental value. "They make lovely doorstops," he added.)



A few walls still stand, back toward the rear. This is where you can feel the ghosts, lingering in the murky shadows by peeling Ionic columns that might once have held up the ceiling of the fancy dining room.

They will also fall. The new owners want money and that means a glass coffin on top of this land, a miserable place to go and die.



I looked through every window, searching for remnants of the winding grand staircase, the mahogany banister gripped by the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Graham Bell, Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, Sarah Bernhardt, Buffalo Bill Cody, P.T. Barnum, Susan B. Anthony, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcel Duchamp -- and all of these people, and many more, and me. But there was no sign of the banister, no sign of the wrought-iron dragons that held it.

They must have sold it for salvage.

When I turned to go, I beheld my old view, the one I felt blessed to see each night when I walked out of the St. Denis. Grace Church in all its beauty. In April, a magnolia tree in full flower, like a snow-covered mountain touched by pink.

It will be someone else's view now.



Read all my coverage on the life and death of the St. Denis building here



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

bookbook

VANISHING

After 35 years in the Village, formerly as Biography Bookshop, bookbook on Bleecker Street will be closing.



I spoke to co-owner Carolyn Epstein who told me, "It started with the rent, but then we decided it's just time for us to stop." The rent is going up, and while the landlord is willing to negotiate, in order to run the bookstore, they'd need a rent reduction and that's not going to happen.

"I'm 70 years old," Carolyn said. "I'm just tired." She and her husband, Chuck, opened the original shop in 1984. They were pushed out of their former space by a rent hike 10 years ago--and the spot went to Marc Jacobs.

It's always a sad day when the city loses another bookstore. In their email announcement of the closing, Carolyn and Chuck write, "Keep supporting our independent bookstore friends in Greenwich Village at Unoppressive Non-imperialist Bargain Books, Three Lives & Company, Mercer Street Books, and Idlewild."

Bookbook will continue to sell books on the street, on 12th and Hudson by Abingdon Square during the Saturday Farmer's Market and possibly on Carmine by the pickle stand. Of course, Carolyn added, "If there's a cheap flight to Paris, I'm not selling books on the street." In her semi-retirement, she hopes to catch up on travel and Tai Chi.

Bookbook closes May 15. Beginning April 15, they will begin discounting everything in the store at 20%-30% off. After that, follow them on Facebook, Instagram @bookbooknyc, and their email list to find out where they will be.




Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Rally & Wake for White Horse

Earlier this month I shared the news that the famed White Horse Tavern would be changing hands, to be run by upscale restaurateur Eytan Sugarman, its building sold to notorious landlord Steve Croman.



Last week, Sugarman went before the Community Board 2 State Liquor Authority Committee and promised not to change the spirit of the historic bar. “I have every intention of keeping this amazing institution the way it is,” he said. “I have no intention of making any dramatic changes.” But he also said he would raise prices and make "a little bit of a better burger."

Locals are worried this means a very different White Horse that might look the same and have the same name, but won't be welcoming or accessible to the current clientele.

Now the Stop Croman Coalition is hosting a rally for the bar, this Thursday, March 21, at 3:00. After the rally, author Malachy McCourt will hold a traditional Irish wake for the White Horse.



Is this the death of the White Horse as we know it? Locals have had plenty of reason to worry.

As I wrote in my book Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul, "A virulent trend has been sweeping the Village, and the city, in which upscale restaurateurs take over vintage spots, refurbish them, and turn them into exclusive locales, keeping their names and capitalizing on their history. It’s an invasion of the body snatchers. The old places look like themselves, sort of, but there’s no soul inside. The blog Grub Street called the trend 'fauxstalgia.' It first happened to the Waverly Inn and the Beatrice Inn, prompting the Times to write about the practice in 2010. The Village, they said, 'has become like a theme park of the past, as these restored standards offer a vision of a lost bohemian New York— albeit with a well-heeled clientele and prices to match.'" New York later wrote about how trendy, monied restaurateurs "seem to be in a race to acquire New York’s oldest, most storied properties."

The people who take over often speak about preserving some aspect of the places. It happened to the Minetta Tavern when its new owner told Zagat, "No one familiar with the Tavern from the past will know exactly what's changed," but it changed dramatically, with a whole new clientele. It happened to Fedora when the new owner went before CB2 and promised, according to Eater, to "keep most of the cherished design details," but the place was completely transformed. It happened to Bill's Gay 90s, almost happened to John's of 12th Street, and after it happened to Rocco's, the new owners said they were paying tribute to the old place.



We only have the past to go by and we certainly can't see the future.

Maybe Sugarman plans to approach the White Horse with a light touch. Maybe he won't close it for renovations, upscale the menu, require reservations, and hype the place to a monied clientele of foodie Instagrammers and celebs. Maybe we won't lose the White Horse as a democratic and accessible place where anyone can sit at the bar for hours, shooting the shit and getting soused (including that grizzled raconteur in the beret and camo pants with a knife hooked to his belt).

Or maybe we really do need a wake.

It looks like it'll be a wild one. Musician and composer David Amram told the Irish Central: “I will leave my composing dungeon and celebrate the White Horse of the 1950s with Malachy at 4 p.m., and we will all have a toast to Ernie’s succulent overcooked knockwursts, non-stop schmoozing between Jimmy Baldwin and Dan Wakefield, the Zola Sisters charming us all, weekends crowded with C. Wright Mills fans, moving men, ex-boxers, crazy poets and neighborhood cats and kitties, filmmakers, homemakers, and stay-awakers!!”







Monday, March 18, 2019

Visiting Hudson Yards

For its opening weekend, Hudson Yards, aka Dubai on the Hudson, is crammed with people. They walk the glistening floors of the luxury shopping mall and climb The Vessel, aka The Giant Shawarma (h/t Eater). They stand in line for free ice cream and ransack a refrigerator full of foul-tasting beverages that may or may not be free. They pose for Instagrammable photos with the mega-development's corporate logo and pay $28 to visit Snark Park, an "art theme park" where the creators have seized an opportunity to "literally control and curate everything," which pretty much sums up everything about Hudson Yards.



In my 2017 book Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul, I predicted that Hudson Yards would be: "A dreamworld of exclusion...one of those places Mike Davis describes in Evil Paradises: 'where the rich can walk like gods in the nightmare gardens of their deepest and most secret desires.' It will be what Norwegian urbanist Jonny Aspen calls zombie urbanism, a neat and tedious stage set, regurgitating global clichés about modern urban life, 'in which there is no room for irregularity and the unexpected.'"

Now the taxpayer-backed mega-development has met its major critics and the verdict is in.

New York magazine called it "a billionaire's fantasy city" as Justin Davidson reported that it feels like a faux New York: "Everything is too clean, too flat, too art-directed." At the Times, Michael Kimmelman said the place "glorifies a kind of surface spectacle -- as if the peak ambitions of city life were consuming luxury goods and enjoying a smooth, seductive, mindless materialism."



Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the gilded room that hawks the Residences at Hudson Yards. Just outside, in the hall of the mall, a massive video screen shows scenes from the lifestyles of the super-rich to a captive audience of tired parents and tourists beached on benches.

Inside, behind 3-D renderings of the towers, visitors watch a film about the love story between Marcus, "the titan of industry," and Viv, "the fashion mogul." They are affluent, glaringly white, and well seasoned, sweeping around their tower while sucking down lattes and green smoothies. In the background plays I'm back in the "New York Groove," which Hudson Yards is decidedly not.

Among the viewers in the real world, a woman asks her friend, "Is this a parody?" The question could be asked again and again while walking through the mall.



For example, when a worker hands out Hudson Yards temporary tattoos so you can brand your body with the corporate logo. Or when a piece of video art, curated by a luxury boutique, praises itself for including "gender nonconforming artists."

Or at the Avant Gallery, showing "art for the new New York" in a show called, no kidding, "There Goes the Neighborhood," filled with riffs on luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel, mixed with images of homeless people and downtown artists.



Is it parody when a crowd crashes the unguarded refrigerators of the Hudson Yards Drug Store and grabs every bottle in sight, swigging down concoctions containing charcoal, rose petal, and turmeric? People gag on the drinks, re-cap the bottles, and leave them on the floor.

Someone says, "It tastes awful."

Someone says, "I don't think these are really free."



Then there's the schedule for The Shed, Hudson Yards' hotly awaited performance space, bringing a lefty radicalism incongruent with the one-percenter playground. The opening season includes "a women-centered celebration of radical art," a work about "the relationship between art and the politics of space," and a lecture on Art and Civil Disobedience by Boots Riley, the African-American Communist behind the film Sorry to Bother You. (It's part of their DIS OBEY program.)

Will young communists soon fill this billionaire fantasy anti-city--and will they be disobedient?

Finally, there's The Vessel, that walkable "stairway to nowhere" that the billionaire developer of Hudson Yards called "the social climber." To walk it, you'll have to agree to an acknowledgment of risks that "may include, for example, slipping, being knocked off balance, falling, exposure to heights (which may cause vertigo, nausea, or discomfort), exposure to flashing or intermittent special effects or lighting, personal injury, or death." One other risk: If you appear in any photos, including your own, you sign away "the unrestricted, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual right and license (with the right to transfer or sublicense) to use my name, likeness, voice, and all other aspects of my persona."



The Vessel's hornet's nest logo is on everything, but nowhere does its silhouette most excite me than when it accidentally appears on the side of a nearby food truck--The Giant Shawarma mirrored by an actual shawarma.

As I escape Hudson Yards, I point out the similarity to the vendor inside the truck. "Yes," he calls out, seeing the joke, "the same! It is the same!" And he has a good laugh. In the end, it all seems like one big joke.


Read all my Hudson Yards coverage here

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Moishe's

VANISHED

This one hurts.



In December I reported that Moishe's Bake Shop in the East Village was possibly closing. I went in and asked. The response: "Where'd you hear that?" asked the cashier. On the Internet. More laughter. "People put all kinds of stuff on the Internet," said the cashier. So everything's fine? "Yeah, yeah."

As I noted then, "But you know how these things happen. If I were you, I'd go enjoy the great Moishe's while you can." I went in and got a last bag of hamentaschen.

Today, E.V. Grieve reports that the bakery has closed without any further warning. He writes:

"Storefront photographers James and Karla Murray first posted the news last night on Instagram:
'Sadly, we just heard from the owner, Moishe Perl, that today was its last day as the entire building has been sold.'" Perl, they say, decided to retire.

And there's one less reason to live in the East Village.

White Horse Tavern Sold

The White Horse Tavern is one of the oldest, most storied and beloved drinking spots left in New York City. It opened in 1880, hosted the likes of Jack Kerouac, Jane Jacobs, Bob Dylan, and of course Dylan Thomas, who drank his last whiskey there before collapsing and dying at St. Vincent's Hospital. Literary pilgrims still visit the place, which retains much of its 150-year history.

The White Horse seems permanent, impossible to erase, like so many New York institutions of this magnitude, but it is not bulletproof. The building is landmarked, but the bar is not. And now we hear things are about to change.



A dependable tipster writes in to say that he spoke to upstairs tenants and White Horse workers who informed him that the building has been sold for an estimated $14 million -- to the notorious landlord Steve Croman, who recently spent time in Rikers and has frequently been accused of harassing rent-regulated tenants.

Also, on March 14, Community Board 2 will be hearing an application for a new liquor license at the space:

"Eytan Sugaman [sic] or LLC to be formed, d/b/a White Horse Tavern, 567 Hudson St. 10014 (OP – Bar/Tavern with sidewalk cafe)"

Sugarman does not open low-key places. He ran the BBQ restaurant Southern Hospitality with Justin Timberlake (who later stepped back; Steve Bannon held a Republican fundraiser there), and he had a club called Suede, frequented by the likes of Britney Spears, Cameron Diaz, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

More recently, Sugarman opened the Hunt and Fish Club, the opulent, hedgefunder-heavy Times Square steakhouse that the Post called "the city’s latest haunt for bigwigs hunting for new deals and beauties fishing for rich husbands." One of Sugarman's co-owners in that project is Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci, Trump's former White House Director of Communications. The exclusive Wall St. restaurant has also hosted Republican fundraisers -- and it serves Scaramucci’s homemade limoncello.

So will the Mooch be helping to run the new White Horse--or whatever takes its place? It's impossible to say just yet. Maybe we'll see a high-end re-do, like the ones that destroyed and/or exclusified Bill's Gay 90s, Minetta Tavern, Rocco's, Fedora, and so many other beloved--and once democratic--classic spots.

My tipster predicts, "White Horse will become Don Trump Jr and Company's FratBro/WhiteBro hang out." Plus Limoncello.

*UPDATE: Eater confirmed the rumors: "Sugarman is insisting that he’s paying attention to the historic aspects of White Horse Tavern. Infrastructure will be updated, though other plans are still to-be-announced. He also did not comment on his landlord’s reputation, responding to an inquiry with 'We are only focused on preserving the rich history and legacy of this iconic institution for New Yorkers.'"


Sugarman and The Mooch, via the Post

This is unsettling news for the great White Horse Tavern, which has been run lovingly and non-exclusively for many years by native New Yorker and former longshoreman Eddie Brennan, who bought the place in 1967, when he was a worker there. He hung the painting of Dylan Thomas in the middle room, and poets still sit beneath it to drink--and drink in the spirit of the place. I did that, too, years ago as a young poet. I wonder if we'll still be able to get in, and if Dylan Thomas will remain.

In the words of that poet, dear White Horse, “Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

If you want to give your two cents and hear Sugarman's plans, show up for the liquor license hearing: Thursday, March 14, 6:30 PM, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 151-155 Sullivan St., Lower Hall.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Dive Bar to Bubble Tea

In the East Village. This is depressing.

Before:



After:



What else is there to say? Here's the story -- and the history -- of the International Bar.

(And, yes, a variation of it lives on a couple blocks south on First Avenue. And, yes, this wasn't the original original. But this good old space? Gone to bubbles.)


Friday, February 15, 2019

Amazon Folds

Today I wrote an essay for The Atlantic on the folding of Amazon in New York City and the activists' celebration party last night in Queens.



It begins, "A piñata hangs from a tree on Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens. It is decorated with the face of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and by the end of Thursday night it will meet the fate of all piñatas."

Read the rest here








Friday, February 8, 2019

Left Bank Books

UN-VANISHING

Some good news for a change. Left Bank Books is returning to brick-and-mortar. On their website, they announce:

"We’re ecstatic to announce the upcoming re-opening of Left Bank Books in a new Greenwich Village location at 41 Perry Street."

Left Bank shuttered in 2016 after struggling in its second location. Prior to that, the shop had been on West 4th Street for many years and was kicked out by a rent hike--their neighbor, Lee's Laundry, was also pushed out. The double space became a cafe and then that shuttered. Something else moved in and I think that might have shuttered, too. I don't know what's there now. As we see over and over, stable, long-term small businesses get pushed out and then the space becomes unstable, filling and emptying again and again.



It's not often that a lost bookstore returns. Let's hope Left Bank has found a decent landlord and newfound stability. They'll be on Perry Street between West 4th Street and Waverly Place. Doors open in March.

They write, "The bookshop will showcase our eclectic selection from the 20th and 21st centuries (and occasionally earlier), encompassing literature, art, film, photography, fashion, architecture, design, music, theater, dance, children’s books, and New York City. In time, we expect to host events and exhibits, becoming a destination for seasoned collectors, emerging enthusiasts, and curious newcomers the world over."

(h/t Alex in NYC)


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

St. Mark's Comics

VANISHING

It's yet another nail in the coffin for the very dead St. Mark's Place. After 36 years, St. Mark's Comics will be closing at the end of February.



They announced the news today on Twitter and explained why on their Facebook page:

"There are lots of obstacles to running a retail storefront in NYC; too many of them at once to fight, and after 36 pretty intense years, not enough left to fight them."

What remains?

The Grassroots Tavern, shuttered last year after 42 years, sits empty. Trash & Vaudeville was kicked off the street. So was St. Mark's Bookshop--and then again. Kim's Video got the boot. A lot of record shops were lost. Dojo's is long gone.

The comic book shop was one of the last of its kind, a dusty, idiosyncratic leftover from the old street, when it was still part and production of the counterculture. But there is little counterculture left in the broken East Village. A century of rebelliousness down the drain.








Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Westsider Books Saved

Last week I reported that Westsider Books was closing. This week we heard the good news that it has been saved. The following is a guest post by Janice Isaac:



Westsider Books is a wonderful used bookstore stuffed with books in every possible space. They could no longer afford to stay open, and locals were devastated. Apparently, non-locals were as well.

Bobby Panza, a West Sider who doesn’t even know the owners personally, but who knows the store and values its uniqueness, started a GoFundMe to help keep this treasure alive. He’d been inspired by owner Dorian Thornley commenting about being able to stay open if they had $50,000 from crowdfunding. Thornly says he was “amazed and shocked...quite taken aback” when he saw, on Facebook, the campaign to save the store. The GoFundMe quickly reached its goal (thanks to donations ranging from very modest to several in the thousands), and Westsider Books will stay. Locals are overjoyed.

I live in the neighborhood and have loved walking around the store, searching for treasures. I sometimes touch the bindings as I shop, as each book seems to have its own history. I once brought my then six-year-old to pick out some children’s books for himself. Venturing up the stairs, he was excited to discover something he’d never seen before -- an actual typewriter. He was disappointed we couldn’t purchase it, but a gently used copy of The Secret Garden seemed to appease him.

When I went there this week to chat with Thornley, I felt steady blasts of cold air as customers arrived, coming in to browse the packed shelves. Some appeared to be tourists, lugging heavy backpacks. Some were obviously locals, and they congratulated Thornley on Westsider being able to remain. Sometimes the door would open, and people would just pop their heads in to express relief about the store’s future, and then they’d continue on their way up or down Broadway. Clearly, in an area filled with empty storefronts and chain stores, the locals are delighted to be able to keep some vestige of what once made walking the streets of the neighborhood special. Who doesn’t cherish those small, quirky, independently owned businesses, run by people who clearly love what they do?

When I asked him how he feels now that the campaign to keep the store open has reached, and even exceeded, its initial, seemingly unattainable goal (it’s at $51,876 as of this writing), he replied, “I’m amazed. I feel incredible."



Thornley and co-owner Bryan Gonzalez are hoping to stay in this location, selling books for as long as possible. Thornley’s plans for the money raised by devoted customers? “Well, I’m hoping we can carry on indefinitely. That’s what I’m telling the press. This money’s going to allow us to pay off the rent and buy some good books."

After speaking with him, I smiled as I glanced at the cover of Salinger’s Nine Stories, a personal favorite, taped to a bookshelf. Then I enjoyed a little browsing in a store that has graced the Upper West Side for 35 years, and hopefully will for many more.

Check out this video about saving the bookstore, by Evan Fairbanks and Christopher Ming Ryan:


Disappearing NYC: Saving Westsider Books from Wheelhouse Communications on Vimeo.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Westsider Books

VANISHING

Located at 81st and Broadway, the great Westsider Books has just announced they will be closing. Another heartbreak for New York City bibliophiles.



Owned by Dorian Thornley and Bryan Gonzalez, the shop opened in the 1980s. They call it "the last used bookstore on the Upper West Side." But the neighborhood keeps on changing, filling up with more money and more chains.

“It’s all different now," Gonzalez told Narratively a few years ago. "There’s more money here, and the people have changed, and so have their tastes. Not that long ago, the city gave you a sense of belonging to something unique, exciting, cosmopolitan. Now what you find here, I can find in a Jersey mall."

Westsider is a wonderful, authentically New York shop, packed from floor to ceiling with books. When I was taking classes in the neighborhood, I would stop in every week and always walked out with a book in hand. Recently, Westsider had a cameo in the excellent and very New York nostalgic film "Can You Ever Forgive Me."


via Medium

The employee I spoke with doesn't know the reason for the closure, but "I can guess," he said. I can guess, too.

He told me they'll be open until February. Until then, everything is 30% off.