Vanishing New York

Last week was a sad one for many NYers, myself included. Some of New York’s most famous stores and venues were shuttered, or announced that they are about to close up shop.

In this ever-evolving city, the retail and housing landscapes have changed dramatically. The running joke when anything closes prompts the question: Luxury condos?

Music venue Roseland where I saw Prince, David Bowie and Parliament, famed art supply store Pearl Paint, specialty bookseller Rizzoli, and music and electronics store J&R now join the departed CBGB, Time Café, Amato Opera, Coliseum Books and the Empire Diner, to name but a few.

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Their replacements?

Roseland Ballroom

The longtime dance and concert venue in the theater district hosted Lady Gaga as its final act. From oldies dance parties to mega-concerts, Roseland leaves a long history, and a hole in the world of NY nightlife.

“The owners of Roseland have not confirmed what will happen to the venue, but many have speculated that it could be torn down to make room for luxury housing.”

Pearl Paint

If you couldn’t find the art supply needed at Pearl Paint, it didn’t exist. Nearly every fine and graphic artist living in New York CIty visited this mecca often. With six floors of almost every supply in existence, Pearl Paint was an institution. The company began shuttering stores in 2010, but the Canal Street location seemed immortal. This long-time, downtown icon is for sale, lease or teardown.

“Everything’s turning into a bank or a Duane Reade or a high-rise glassy condo.”

Rizzoli Bookstore

While it’s non-landmarked (the Landmarks Preservation Commission stated that there wasn’t enough of the historic interior intact to classify as a landmark), but beloved edifice on 57 Street is closing, Rizzoli claims to simply be relocating. But the store’s interior was part of the Rizzoli experience. The famed bookseller boasted an old-fashioned grandness with its elaborate ceiling and its balcony with iron railings that looked down on the ground floor – not to mention the gorgeous publications from Rizzoli’s own imprint. Fortunately, my book collection has a few of those.

“The current building is not landmarked, and developing duo LeFrak and Vornado Realty Trust plan to raze the building, and its neighbors, to construct a high-rise condo.”

J&R Music and Computer World

Down on Park Row, by the Brooklyn Bridge, this giant electronics store abruptly closed its doors last week after more than 40 years of selling computers, TVs, DVDs, cameras and vinyl records at a continuous group of four storefronts. For J&R, its days as a brick-and-mortar version are no more, but the online retailer will live on.

“Everything is on the table right now,” the source said, noting that the Friedmans retain valuable air rights for potential high-rise developments.”


Located at historic Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues in Brooklyn, Junior’s is home to the best cheesecake in New York, or at least the most famous. And the original Junior’s Restaurant has been a Brooklyn staple for overstuffed food, fun, service, and, of course, the best cheesecake for decades. While Junior’s is shuttering temporarily – waiting to resituate itself on the ground floor site of the luxury building claiming its footprint – will it have the same vibe, the same prices?

“…news spread that Junior’s is planning to sell its building to a developer who will most likely transform the two-story restaurant into a luxury apartment tower…”

So what places does that leave New Yorkers? A multitude of Duane Reade stores so close in location that you can stretch out your arms and touch the next one. If it’s not a Duane Reade, then, it’s a CVS or Walgreen’s. Most open 24/7 – the benefit being able to pick up shampoo at 3am. TD Banks are situated on every other corner. And in between drug stores and banks, there’s a plethora of high-rise luxury condos.

I’m all for evolving cities, but at what cost to culture?

Images: Flickr / Roseland by Americasroof under CC license CC-BY-SA-2.5; Rizzoli interior by Driely S. for Racked; Flickr / Pearl Paint by Eden, Janine and Jim under CC license, CC BY 2.0; © J&R; © Junior’s.

One Response to “Vanishing New York”

  1. Elaina NYC Says:

    Here’s another for your list: Bowlmor Lanes. Excerpt from

    “New owners bought the property in 2012 for conversion into into luxury condos, and construction is set to begin immediately. While residents and nearby business owners seem ambivalent to dismissive about the toursity, neon amusement Bowlmor marketed for high prices, many are miffed at the future construction plans.”

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