Tuesday, January 04, 2011

18th and 8th: The Way It Was

Recently, my brother happened to catch a 1997 episode of "Law & Order" that was filmed on my block right before I moved to New York. The timing -- as it often is, it seems -- was kind of spooky because I had JUST been walking down the street pointing out to a friend all of the businesses around my apartment that have changed hands in the dozen-plus years I have lived here. So fun to see the old haunts -- my bodega, my hardware store, my breakfast joint -- with my own eyes again, back when my intersection was being described by The New York Times as the epicenter of gay life in New York!

The barber shop is still there, but the sign and fun barber poles out front are ancient history

This cute antique shop became a dog-grooming place

Sadly, the (heinous) Viceroy -- where I had lunch right before viewing the apartment that would become my home in 1998 -- is still there, unlike the late-great Jerry Orbach

The charming restaurant 18th & 8th -- where I loved to have breakfast alone and read the paper -- and the hardware store -- where two of the most helpful men you've ever met worked -- were both demolished to make room for a condo building with a bank in the ground level (ugh); the Indian restaurant next door is now a bar/lounge called Pearl (that I've never set foot in); the bodega next to that just lost its lease and is currently unoccupied; Flight 151 is still there, but the famed FoodBar -- where every gay guy who has ever set foot in New York City has eaten -- is now a Chipotle(!)

That's the Pine Tree on the corner, my bodega where my friend Larry and I got sandwiches on 9/11 as we watched a parade of distraught people walk up 8th Avenue trying to make their way home. Today it's a f**king Brooklyn Industries

My corner liquor store is essentially the same, although I don't drink at home so rarely go in

I'll bet you don't have a chalkboard diagram of your block!


thegaycurmudgeon said...

The destruction of that beautiful brownstone on 18th and 8th to make way for that soulless glass box has to be one of the most disgraceful architectural tragedies in the history of New York City.
That kind of development, along with the influx of chain stores and restaurants (where I refuse to shop or eat), has robbed New York City of whatever character it once had.

swine said...

All those sad changes & the awful Viceroy is still there??? I don't get it. Bad food, high prices & shitty tude -- blech!

Michael said...

I loved 18th and 8th! And I agree - Viceroy is so bad. How does it stay in business???

Anonymous said...

Read the first paragraph of "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Capote wrote the same thing sixty years ago.

Saintlycvd said...

Wow, that does bring back memories. I would go to Pine Tree for sandwiches too. Loved the Korean(?) lady that worked there.

Bring me back Old Chelsea.