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Back in 2011 I wrote about the teardown of all the shops on the east side of Broadway between 77th and 78th Street. A year later I looked in on the construction, which was just beginning. The low-slung building that housed New Pizza Town, Jewelry Store, World of Nuts, Subway, Laila Rowe and Cosi was landmarked for some reason and couldn’t be torn down. Now complete, here’s the once interesting block:

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I don’t know much about architecture – aside from some inspired work with Lego (OK, the kids helped) – however, this seems like a lost opportunity for creating something distinctive rather than bland and ugly. I eagerly await its teardown sometime in the next century.

Another tradeoff: Eight locally owned and operated businesses and franchises for a bland store selling CCME (cheap crap made elsewhere) and another massive chain pharmacy. One of those lost businesses was Ruby Foo, a place where my wife and I had our second first date. Its previous occupant was Mad Fish where we had our first second date three years earlier. I’m willing to bet that Ruby Foo alone employed more people than the two current occupants on the block.

The people who operated World of Nuts, a candy and ice cream store, knew our kids by name.

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Last year, Upper West Siders saw the shutdown of the entire block of stores between 77th and 78th Street. I spent a few minutes catching up with Flag Guy. The northern portion of the block seen in the left of the above photo (click to see big), has been gutted. The shell of these historically significant buildings will be preserved, which earns the developer a tax break.

This section of the block: nineteen stories of glorious glass. What was most recently there? Manhattan Diner (so-so, but reliable), Ruby Foo’s (a classic standby), Cosi (where have all the new moms and triple-decker baby carriages gone?), Laila Rowe (emergency gifts for teenage girls), Jewelry store (reliable repairs, reasonable pries), Subway (so what), World of Nuts & Ice Cream (OK in a pinch, but Emack and Grom were always the first choice), New Pizza Town (the loss of this icon remains a tragedy).

“Time was,” the old master said, “I could levitate a good 10-12 inches off the ground for minutes at a time while juggling a chainsaw, a bowling ball and a ripe olive.”

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A day of wandering the Village and Washington Square Park along the streets of NYU… among tattoo parlors, pizza joints, head shops and holes in the ground awaiting replacement buildings. Looking like a tourist with my cargo shorts, baseball cap and camera dangling from my neck.

Bleeker and Christopher, another corner with two facing empties.

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Sign in yet another closed video store window, a segment of business quickly being killed by online video, netflix and on demand video.

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http://alphainventions.com
http://condron.us

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A shop on Lafayette St.

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One on Broome

Union Square Virgin Megastore – closing.

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Someone in Soho likes irony, or ironic signage, and on top of that has an oversized printer. Or, maybe they just know someone with a large format printer, or a print shop for that matter. Whatever, signs like the one below pasted on a wall on Wooster near Grand have popped up in a smattering of empty storefronts, galleries and studios.

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keep out

keep out

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Guy painting over graffiti

Guy painting over graffiti

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"Enjoy subprime lending"

Enjoy subprime lending

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Opening soon on W. 72nd st.

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Is it coming or going?

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There must be something cynical to say about this ad.

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Comida appears slated to open one of these days.

A good if sobering article by Adam Bloch in this week’s West Side Spirit today brilliantly titled Closed for Business.

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Here’s a link to the full article. http://westsidespirit.com/?p=1613#more-1613

CNBC is airing a program called “House of Cards” this month. Check it out if you get the chance. http://www.cnbc.com/id/28892719. You can also view the program on YouTube.

The program quotes an anonymous wall street e-mail:
“Let’s hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters.”
–Internal email, Wall Street, 12/15/06

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This is the former home of Apthorp Cleaners, which temporarily housed a flower shop that moved next door. Apthorp Cleaners is reopening on Amsterdam. My wife has forced me to show pictures of new businesses and businesses that have moved. She can do that; she has that kind of power over me. You think you could resist, but you couldn’t.

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Also opening on Amsterdam is this vitamin shop, run by the guy who ran the vitamin counter at The Health Nuts on Broadway. This store occupies the spot where there used to be a little shelving/storage store.

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Getting off the bus at Grand Army Plaza, Fifth Avenue and 59th, there was a noticeable absence of activity. This is the square where the horse carriage drivers queue and wait for passengers. It was 60 degrees, warm for February and perfect NYC tourist weather.

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