Archive for the ‘Meat-packing District’ Category

A faded ad hangs on in the Meatpacking District

September 22, 2014

From the 1890s to the 1960s, grocers Middendorf & Rohrs operated a wholesale store out of this red-brick building at One Little West 12th Street.

Meatpackingfadedad

The grocers are long-gone, of course, like the rest of the wholesale markets (including Gansevoort Market down the block) that once called this grimy stretch of Manhattan home.

But what a treat to see that the name of the place is still visible on the facade!

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Hmm, could this Rohrs be the same Rohrs who opened the beloved (and recently shuttered) coffee emporium on the Upper East Side in 1896?

Gorgeous neon signs illuminating the city

March 3, 2014

What’s more beautiful than block after block of glowing reds and blues and pinks and yellows, emanating light and heat?

Oldhomesteadsign

These food-oriented neon signs also make you hungry. The Old Homestead sign looks pretty old, though not as old as this steak house (two words!) itself, from 1868.

Donutpub14thstreet

The Donut Pub on 14th Street, a 50-year-old remnant of New York before cronuts and Starbucks, recently survived a competitive attack by an upstart Dunkin’ Donuts down the block, which quietly closed shop a few years ago.

DeRobertispastryshoppe

DeRobertis Caffe and Pasticceria has been baking sweets for 110 years on First Avenue near 14th Street, when this was an Sicilian immigrant micro-neighborhood featuring Russo Brothers, Veniero, and probably hundreds of small shops lost to history.

Queensign

Queen is an oddly named Italian restaurant (since 1958!) on Court Street in Brooklyn. You have to dig that crown.

Katzsign

And of course, Katz’s Deli, a treasure of New York neon and store signage—and sandwiches and Jewish soul food too.

More sublime neon beauty can be found here.

Mulberry Street’s grim 18th century nickname

October 14, 2013

Today’s Mulberry Street is a slender little strip of restaurants, cafes, and boutiques—part trendy Nolita, part Little Italy tourist district.

MulberrystreetsignBut it was a very different scene on Mulberry in the late 18th century.

The southern end of the street abutted Collect Pond, once a source of fresh water but by now the site of tanneries, pottery works, and other noxious industries that needed access to water.

One of those industries was the slaughterhouse business. After one opened in the 1770s, others followed, to the point where Mulberry Street was known as “Slaughterhouse Street.”

Bullsheadtavernbowery

The rollicking Bull’s Head Tavern, on the Bowery (parts of which have been recently uncovered underground), catered to the butchers and cattle men who worked in the abattoirs on and near Mulberry Street.

This circa-1800 sketch of the tavern and an adjoining pen belonging to a slaughterhouse provides an idea of what Slaughterhouse Street looked like. (What it smelled like, one can only imagine!)

New York’s Italian food stores are fading fast

July 11, 2013

As New York’s Italian-Amerian neighborhoods continue to shrink, more and more of the grocery stores, butchers, and bakeries that made the city’s many Little Italys so unique have packed it in.

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Joe’s Dairy, the tiny cheese store on Sullivan Street (ah, the mozzarella!) was the latest old-school Italian shop to bite the dust.

Mastellonehouseofmeatsign

But some of these little mom and pops continue to hang in there, brightening streets with their typically red, green, and white signs and 1970s-esque typefaces.

MIlanositaliansausagesign

Court Pastry Shop and Mastellone Italian Deli, both on Court Street in Brooklyn, are still holding on. Home made Spumoni!

Zingonebrossign

Milano’s Italian Sausage is on the outskirts of the Meatpacking District. What a list of delicacies! I wonder how much longer it will stay.

Was Columbus Avenue in the 80s once an Italian enclave? If so, I think the Zingone Brothers shop is the last survivor. The family-owned grocery has been in business since 1927.

Albanesemeatsign

 Albanese Meats & Poultry has stuck it out on Elizabeth Street since 1923, when this was a Sicilian block with  half a dozen butcher shops. It’s a wonderful holdout—but I’m not even sure it’s actually still open.

The last authentic Meatpacking District signs?

April 24, 2013

Could these really be the final remnants of the meat purveying industry that existed for decades at the splintered ends of far West 14th Street?

Supercitymeatsign

Super City Wholesale Meats decamped in December 2012 after occupying this spot on West 13th Street since 1979, the Sawkill Lumber Company tells us.

The sign remains, lending authenticity to retailers looking to move into the newly rebranded construction site 837 Washington Street.

Manhattanmotelsupplycosign

Manhattan Hotel Supply Company was (is?) at 447 West 13th Street “for 4 Generations.”

They were among the “160 thriving meat-related businesses operating between 18th and Bank Streets,” in 1974, this illuminating 1997 New York cover story on the beginnings of Meatpacking gentrification explains.

Take a look at the article—a lot has changed in 16 years.

Spooky outlines of long-gone Manhattan buildings

February 9, 2013

New and old New York collide on the sides of buildings all over the city. Sometimes the faded pattern of a dormer window or chimney is visible for years, other times just a days before developers cover these remnants forever.

The building that once stood here on the corner of Greenwich and Vestry Streets in Tribeca, below, doesn’t look fancy. It was probably just a regular walk-up with six or eight apartments in what had been a neighborhood of light industry for most of the 20th century.

But it sure left a formidable impression.

Ghostbuildingvestrygreenwich

I love the sloping roof on this long-gone building on Washington Place in the Meatpacking District, below. Was it a garage? Warehouse? Meat packager?

Ghostbuildingwashingtonst

I have no idea when it went down, but it’s being obliterated forever in favor of another restaurant or boutique or luxury hotel.

Ghostbuilding31ststreet

On 31st Street near Fifth Avenue is the imprint of a sturdy chimney and a roof on a slight incline. A coat of paint almost covers most of it up, but a sliver remains of what was once someone’s home.

Ghostbuildingeast29thstreet

The best thing about this bulldozed building on East 29th Street? The phantom smoke coming out of the pattern of a chimney!

The sweet treats once manufactured in New York

February 6, 2013

TootsierolladTootsierollfactoryContemporary New York boasts of its artisanal gourmet chocolatiers and confectioners.

But decades ago, the city was home to big factories pumping out some of the cheap sweets that are iconic old-school brands today.

Like Tootsie Rolls. Invented by a Brooklyn candy maker in 1896 and named after his daughter, these chewy candies used to be produced by the Sweets Company of America in a factory at 325-329 West Broadway.

That factory has sat empty for years, but as you can see from the photo, a developer has big plans: it’s set to become luxury condos called the Chocolate Factory, reports Curbed.

LifesaversadLooks like the same fate is in store for the former Life Savers factory at Eleventh Avenue and 20th Street.

This is where the minty candies shaped like life preservers got their start in 1913, before the Mint Products Company moved the factory to Queens in 1916, according to Businessweek.com.

The new name of these opulent residences: the Lifesaver Lofts, of course!

LifesaverloftsTake a stroll through Chelsea Market, at Ninth Avenue and 15th Street, and you’re constantly reminded that this high-end foodie heaven was once part of the factory complex owned by the National Biscuit Company, or Nabisco, since the late 19th century.

Nabisco2It’s where millions of Oreos, Nutter Butters, Vanilla Wafers, Animal Crackers, and Fig Newtons were produced, packaged, and sent across the world.

Until the 1950s, that is, when Nabisco began baking all of its signature cookies in New Jersey and moved out.

[Left: A Nabisco building on 11th Avenue in 1913; Library of Congress]

Where survivors of the Titanic docked in 1912

January 23, 2013

TitanicIf all went according to plan, the R.M.S. Titanic would have pulled into the White Star Line’s Pier 59 off 18th Street at the Hudson River.

But fate intervened. So instead, the 700 or so survivors picked up by the R.M.S. Carpathia docked in New York around nine p.m. on April 18 at Pier 54, the Cunard Line pier, just south of 14th Street.

There they were greeted by thousands of panicked relatives and newspaper reporters, desperate for details on who had survived and what happened to the so-called unsinkable ship.

Pier54fadedsign

The lettering is ghostly and faint, but you can still see both company names on this rusted old metal entrance.

Former rivals, the White Star and the Cunard lines merged in the 1930s, trying to stave off bankruptcy.

Pier54cunardlusitania

Pier 54 had another tangle with a maritime disaster. It’s the port where the R.M. S. Lusitania sailed from in 1915 before being torpedoed.

Here it is arriving at Pier 54 in an undated photo. And yep, that’s the infamous Liberty Inn when it was a sailor’s dive known as the Strand Hotel.)

Nell’s: The trendiest nightclub in 1980s New York

August 30, 2012

Where did rock stars, artists, Wall Street traders, models, and the people who hung around them in mid-1980s Manhattan go to mingle?

Nell’s, a former electronics store-turned-nightclub on West 14th Street near Eighth Avenue. It was supposed to be a throwback of sorts, a retreat from the Studio 54 kind of excess.

The space cultivated the look of an elegant, Victorian gentleman’s club—one with a velvet rope, tough door policy, and lines stretching around the block.

This ad, which ran in the November 1993 issue of Interview gives a quick look at some of the regulars (Quentin Crisp? Salmon Rushdie?). By the early 1990s, however, Nell’s had lost some of its cachet, reports a 1994 New York Times article.

Nell’s closed in 2004, but will always be remembered as a 1980s hangout. Even Patrick Bateman, Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, was a regular.

Faded food ads on Gansevoort Street

January 18, 2010

The ground floor of 53-61 Gansevoort Street has been scrubbed over and boutique-ized like so much of the rest of the Meatpacking District. 

So it’s a treat to see that the three-story faded ad on the side of the building is still mostly legible. “Clam Chowder Clam Bouillon” reads the letters across the top floor. The next ad is too difficult to make out, but the second-story one is “New England Biscuit Works.”

The company was an early tenant of the building, constructed on this triangular spot in 1887. At that time the Meatpacking District was known as Gansevoort Market, the city’s designated spot for open-air meat and vegetable markets.

Something about 53 Gansevoort Street caught photographer Berenice Abbott’s eye in 1936, prompting her to take this picture of the building. 

Though the ads appear to be different, the street scene, with men unloading trucks, looks the way the daytime Meatpacking District did up until the late 1990s—when the neighborhoof was still made up of, well, meatpackers.


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