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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.

Grom, Broadway & 76th, closed last month. Get the full scoop here.

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Three photos taken this summer, two with water towers. First, yesterday in Manhattan…

The water towers frame a distant jet… click to enlarge and you’ll see it.

One night in July, the sunset and the water towers…

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).

It was June 18 last year, a day of late spring’s shimmering edge with summer, that the ghosts appeared, all translucence, going about their business as the rest of us do.

All heart they live, all head, all eye, all ear,
All intellect, all sense, and as they please
They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size,
Assume, as likes them best, condense or rare.

JOHN MILTON, Paradise Lost

There are an infinite number of universes existing side by side and through which our consciousnesses constantly pass. In these universes, all possibilities exist. You are alive in some, long dead in others, and never existed in still others. Many of our “ghosts” could indeed be visions of people going about their business in a parallel universe or another time — or both.

PAUL F. ENO, Faces at the Window

 

I look for ghosts; but none will force
Their way to me. ‘Tis falsely said
That there was ever intercourse
Between the living and the dead.

 WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, Affliction of Margaret

 

Of all ghosts, the ghosts of our old loves are the worst.

SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Whenever I take up a newspaper, I seem to see Ghosts gliding between the lines. There must be Ghosts all the country over, as thick as the sand of the sea…. We are, one and all, so pitifully afraid of the light.

HENRIK IBSEN, Ghosts

The ghosts of the tribe
Crouch in the nights beside the ghost of a fire, they try to
Remember the sunlight,
Light has died out of their skies.

ROBINSON JEFFERS, Apology for Bad Dreams

It is wonderful that five thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Life of Samuel Johnson

The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always — take any form — drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!

EMILY BRONTE, Wuthering Heights

While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped
Through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin,
And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing
Hopes of high talk with the departed dead.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, Hymn to Intellectual Beauty

On the site of the doomed Teagschwendner, work of some kind begins.

Masking their excitement with blase, the overjoyed populace passes.

And has more than a year not passed since this rainbow presented itself to the city?

 

A suave man catches up on the latest.

I like this one.

Not seated.

Contemplative or sleepy man with bird statue bench. The acorn and bird are not to scale. Do not fret; this was the artist’s intent. The man is not part of the installation.

About to make an important call.

On the important call, sharing the bench with Delilah and Indifference, out of town visitors just taking it all in.

We’re not supposed to make eye contact in New York or relationships.

 

The Upper West Side has suddenly come alive with shops, stores, and shops, restaurants, sellers, vendors, and stores. Is this an economic revival, or merely the return of civilization?

But first, some creative signs pasted to the windows of the old Starlight Diner, and whatever it was that was next door.

On Broadway in the low ’80s, the competition for cupcake dollars intensifies:


After you’ve fattened them up, have their photos taken at Amsterdam & 79th:

Occupying what was once half of Avventura (other half still there), food grown from live organs, or perhaps organisms or organizations.

Opening tomorrow, a boutique espresso machine and pod shop moving into where recently you could buy boutique tea.

Hmmmmmm… Something(s) is (are) wrong with these signs. Can you find it (them)? Answers posted August 13, 2019.

 

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