Gothamist, January 5, 2014
There’s no denying that Mayor Bloomberg dramatically changed the landscape of NYC through bike lanes, new buildings construction, and rezoning. In some ways—like with improved and increased street space—this has been a very good thing. But in other ways—like the homelessness epidemic and with the loss of affordable housing to taxpayer subsidized high rises—it most certainly has not. And one of his worst legacies will be the incredible loss of beloved neighborhood businesses and restaurants over his 12 years in office.
Jeremiah Moss, the curator and chronicler of the changing face of NYC on Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, compiled an impressively depressing list of businesses that have disappeared since 2001—places that have been forced out because of rent hikes, that lost their leases when their building was sold, that were demolished for billion-dollar luxury condo projects.
It’s a list where the phrase “a victim of soaring rents in a neighborhood populated as much by bankers as by bohemians” is all too accurate. Moss lists all the years these establishments were in business (ie, 150 years for Domino Sugar Factory, 45 years for Kenny’s Castaway’s), and came up with an astronomical figure: NYC lost at least 6,926 years of its history in 12 years.
Some of these places of course would have disappeared anyway (as a commenter points out, “‘Seized by landlord’ and ‘evicted’ means non-payment of rent”), but most places seem to have been the victims of gentrification, rent increases, and the rising cost of surviving in NYC. We share Moss’ hope that de Blasio will follow the lead of San Francisco in dealing with retail stores. In the meantime, let’s appreciate the popovers while they’re here.