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Thread: Upper West Side Story

  1. #196

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merry View Post
    Not quite as good as the originals, but still positive.
    They're exact replicas of the removed ones. You can see pictures of them in the Times article. Maybe it's confusing because the building seems to have different styles of urns.
    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20...e-urns-return/

  2. #197
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Yes, I know. I just meant that it would have been better had the original urns remained intact.

  3. #198
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    Retail Limits in Plan for the Upper West Side

    By JOSEPH BERGER


    Chase bank and a Duane Reade share the same block of Columbus Avenue.


    Across New York City, the proliferation of chain stores, banks and pharmacies in the past decade or so has robbed many neighborhoods of the quirky one-of-a-kind shops that give those places their distinct personalities and where customers can form a relationship with their shopkeepers.

    Now the city is proposing to erect a fire wall in one neighborhood — the Upper West Side — that may discourage chain stores and preserve the neighborhood’s commercial character and its vibrant street life. Supporters believe, and opponents fear, that it could serve as a blueprint for other neighborhoods.

    The proposal would amend the neighborhood’s zoning to limit the ground-floor width of all new stores to 40 feet on two major commercial thoroughfares — Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues — and banks to 25 feet on those two avenues, and on Broadway as well. The 40-foot number was chosen because most are already narrower than that, and 25 feet was regarded by officials as a “workable width” for ground-floor banks.

    The district covered by the proposal — roughly 72nd to 110th Streets, though on Columbus the new zoning would apply no farther north than 87th Street — already has 29 banks, 24 of them on Broadway. The Department of City Planning did not tally chain retailers, but dozens have cropped up on all three roads. Chains have so transformed Broadway that the new regulation aims to stop only banks there.

    Many West Siders — and a neighborhood councilwoman, Gale A. Brewer — have complained that these national businesses gobble up what were once clusters of smaller stores. “Stores are the soul of the neighborhood,” Councilwoman Brewer said. “Small pharmacies, shoe stores, they mean everything to us.”

    One Duane Reade on Amsterdam Avenue, between 78th and 79th Streets, takes up more than three-fourths of the block; a Chase Bank on Broadway between 89th and 90th takes up half a block. One side of Amsterdam between 76th and 77th consists almost entirely of an Equinox gym, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Crumbs cupcakes and Giggle baby products.

    “Each block has a Duane Reade,” said Kenneth Yoo, owner of Paper House, a party supplies store on Amsterdam near 73rd. The large stores make it hard for small businesses, he said: “All the stuff we have, Duane Reade has, too — and cheaper.”

    Susanna Brock, 27, a Harvard graduate who teaches at a private school in the area, lamented how hard it was to find “interesting boutique stores” in which to browse. “If I come out during one of my breaks, there’s no store to go into,” she said. “What am I going to do, look at toothpaste at Duane Reade?”

    Mel Wymore, who until recently was chairman of a local community board on the West Side, has argued that big banks and large pharmacies have a “deadening” impact on street life and eat up sidewalk space.

    “When a bank closes at night, it becomes dead space,” he said. “A retail establishment, on the other hand, is interesting to look at. Even when it’s closed, it engages the pedestrian.”

    But critics, like the Real Estate Board of New York, which represents landlords, say the proposal is misguided and chains and large drugstores are proliferating because people like them. Stores like Duane Reade and CVS, said Steven Spinola, the board’s president, have become the new five-and-dimes, places where customers can find everything, like light bulbs, shoelaces and a gallon of milk, in one spot.

    “If CVS is such a terrible store for the area,” he said, “then why are they getting a tremendous number of customers?”

    In a way, the proposal is intended to encourage more stores like Stoopher &Boots on Amsterdam Avenue, Stephanie Goldstein’s idiosyncratic but tidy shop of ladybug-shaped night lights, dinosaurs made of socks and other hand-crafted what-nots. Scout, her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, is a regular there; he would probably not be found in a chain.

    Such singular shops, as well as locksmiths, florists, picture framers and others stores catering to everyday needs, once bred prolifically on the West Side, helping the neighborhood keep its loose-limbed character. But they have been disappearing, replaced by banks and chain retailers like Banana Republic and Victoria’s Secret. The neighborhood has lost the Maxilla and Mandible store, a three-decade-old fixture that specialized in fossils and skulls, and Ottomanelli Brothers butcher shop, which offered meats not found in supermarkets.

    Planning officials insist they are not trying to block chains. They could still be on Amsterdam or Columbus Avenues, but they would have to expand onto the second floor or deeper within a building’s core. Food stores like Trader Joe’s would be exempt from the new zoning.

    City officials point out that limits on the ground-floor frontage of banks have in recent years been tried successfully, if on a smaller scale, on 125th Street, and more than 40 years ago on Fifth Avenue, though in neither case was a 40-foot limit imposed on frontage.

    Ms. Goldstein said she worried that limiting frontage would still allow national businesses to occupy the smaller spaces. “It’s not protecting the kindof store,” she said. “It’s protecting the size of the store.”

    Another skeptic is Mitchell L. Moss, a professor of urban planning at New York University, who said the West Side, once an enclave of professionals in relatively low-paying intellectual trades, was drawing chain stores because it has different newcomers, many of them affluent. It has also seen the building of tall condominiums and co-ops with footprints ideal for large stores. “The West Side is no longer a hotbed of liberals, artists, poets and activists,” he said. “It has entered the 21st century with Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Century 21.”

    Arguing that the zoning is addressing a nonexistent problem, Mr. Spinola pointed out that fewer than 45 of the 900 stores in the district that would be affected are now wider than 40 feet. More crucial to the fate of small stores, he said, are rising commercial taxes.

    Mr. Wymore, who is running for a City Council seat, said the proposal was no panacea because merchants were also being pushed out by rising rents, partly a function of the West Side’s wealthier population and partly the result of landlords’ preferring deeper-pocketed retailers.

    Rachaele Raynoff, a spokeswoman for the planning department, insisted that the agency had no intention of copying the proposal elsewhere. “We believe that neighborhoods are very specific,” she said. “There’s no cookie cutter, one size fits all.”

    The new zoning resolution, which is under an advisory evaluation by the neighborhood community board, must be approved by the planning department and the Council (the Council typically defers to a member’s wishes on neighborhood issues).

    The support of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration is already assured, since the planning department would not pursue the zoning plan without the blessing of City Hall.

    Interviews suggested that smaller merchants feel endangered. “It’s a sense of pride to own your own business, to have independence, but you’re always on edge,” said Elias Makriyianis, who for 25 years has operated Amaryllis Florist on Amsterdam Avenue near 73rd.

    Many people worry that with every small store’s closing, the experience of shopping begins to lose its relish. Kate Kaminski, 34, an assistant at Gary Tracy, an optometrist on Amsterdam, said the trinkets at chain stores were often mass produced, while those at hole-in-the-wall stores were often original or offbeat.

    “When they close,” she said, “you lose beautiful quality products.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/ny...1&ref=nyregion

  4. #199

  5. #200

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    I love the UWS. I can't wait for the day when the crappy Gray's Papaya is gone.

  6. #201
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    There are some magnificent buildings along West End Avenue (#199).

    Does anyone know if the third building along (tallest) on the left has a name?

  7. #202
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    A Scene From Cuban Sugarcane Fields Will Endure on Columbus Avenue

    By DAVID W. DUNLAP


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    High-relief mural at the former Victor's Cafe, 240 Columbus Avenue, at West 71st Street,
    depicts a guajiro, a peasant farmer, in a Cuban sugar field. It is modeled on Victor del Corral.


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    Oxen, under yoke, haul a cart filled with sugarcane in the Victor's Cafe mural.


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Victor's Cafe mural by Arturo Martín Garcia, as it appeared this week.


    Damon Winter/The New York Times
    As it appeared in February.


    Landmarks Preservation Commission
    As it appeared about 20 years ago.


    Courtesy of Monica Zaldivar
    As it appeared about 40 years ago.

    For more than four decades, the yoked oxen have lumbered toward Columbus Avenue through the towering grasslands along West 71st Street, pulling a cart piled high with sugarcane. A young guajiro has stood nearby — momentarily at rest from his toils — gazing not into space but into his own future.

    Nine months ago, the future looked dark.

    That guajiro, the peasant farmer shown on the high relief mural outside the former Victor’s Cafe at 240 Columbus Avenue, is (or was) Victor del Corral of Guanabacoa, Cuba. In 1957, Mr. del Corral immigrated to the United States. Six years later, he opened Victor’s Cafe. Craig Claiborne told readers of “The New York Times Guide to Dining Out in New York” in the late 1960s: “Anyone with a passion for Cuban food would look hard in this city to find a more auspicious source than Victor’s.”

    Victor’s was a neighborhood institution, where Cuban expatriates and Lincoln Center concertgoers could feast on seafood stew, white bean soup and roast pig. In 1971, Mr. del Corral commissioned a relief mural, in plaster and marble dust, from the sculptor Arturo Martín Garcia.


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times Detail of the mural.

    “Victor’s vision was to remind Cuban exiles living in New York that one must work hard to make it in life, but at the same time to never forget one’s roots,” said his granddaughter Monica Zaldivar, who now runs the cafe. It has been at 236 West 52nd Street since 1980.

    Subsequent tenants of the Columbus Avenue address preserved the mural. But when Greg Hunt and his partners came along this year with plans to reopen the spot as Cafe Tallulah, they made it plain that — in their minds, at least — the artwork was doomed.

    “The location has been an eyesore for years and we’re investing close to $2 million to renovate it and make it wonderful again,” Mr. Hunt said in February. “I don’t want to open with two decrepit, sappy cows.

    Preservationists looked at the beasts differently; and not just because it was obvious at a quick glance that they were not cows.

    Manuel R. Castedo, president of the nonprofit Cuban Cultural Center of New York, a nonprofit organization, said, “If the mural is, explicitly, an invaluable imprint of Cubans in the great metropolis, on a larger scale it is a reminder of all other immigrant communities who have prospered in New York City and made it their home, including the artist himself.”


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times Detail of the mural.

    Mr. Martín was graduated in 1949 from the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes San Alejandro, in Marianao, a suburb of Havana. He died in 1985. If his work is not the equal, say, of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s in Boston, it still has an undeniable vitality. And it certainly captures the spirit of the Upper West Side 40 years ago.

    “The work is emblematic of a notable moment in this neighborhood’s larger history,” said Arlene Simon, president of the preservation group Landmark West! A representative of the group testified against Mr. Hunt’s plans at a hearing of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission on Feb. 21.

    The matter was before the commission because 240 Columbus Avenue is in the Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District. A facade alteration like the one Mr. Hunt proposed is subject to the commission’s approval. It was clear at the hearing that some commission members believed that a case could be made for requiring Mr. Hunt to keep the mural in place as a record of Victor’s.

    “This came up as one of the pre-eminent businesses that helped to save the Upper West Side,” one of the commission members, Michael Devonshire, said at the hearing. He added, “I think that this mural is representative of that resurgence.”

    Whether Mr. Hunt would have prevailed or not at the commission became moot when Cafe Tallulah reappeared in March to say it was keeping the mural. Robert B. Tierney, the commission chairman, told Mr. Hunt and his partners: “It’s very important to save the mural, and I’m glad the whole process has produced this and that you’ve chosen to go in that direction.”

    On its Facebook page in June, Cafe Tallulah said of the old mural: “Although we weren’t crazy about it at first, over time it grew on us. We gradually came to the realization (especially over the last few days) that it is unique, quirky and fun.”

    Recently, the mural has been transformed from dull brown to dazzling white by a primer coat that sharpens every point on each sugar cane stalk and transforms the grass strands from a muddle to a biomorphic fantasy. (The final color will be off-white.)

    “It really is wonderful,” said Ms. Zaldivar, Victor del Corral’s granddaughter. “I live in the area, a block away, and I was delighted to see it was restored.”

    When Ms. Simon of Landmark West! learned that Cafe Tallulah would open Dec. 1, she said, “I’m going to be 76 that day, so I definitely have to go celebrate.” After an instant’s happy reflection, she added, “There may be a God after all.”


    Courtesy of Monica Zaldivar
    Arturo Martín Garcia working on the high-relief mural at Victor's Cafe in 1971.


    Courtesy of Monica Zaldivar
    Workmen installing the segments showing a cart wheel, left, and an ox, right.


    Courtesy of Monica Zaldivar
    Mr. Martín and Victor del Corral, the namesake of Victor's Cafe and the model
    for the barechested figure of the guajiro in the sugarcane fields.

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20...lumbus-avenue/

  8. #203
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Great restoration.

  9. #204
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    The Skinny Shops of Columbus Avenue

    By Michelle Young


    Angelo’s Shoe Repair at 228 Columbus Avenue, one of the many skinny shops along this Upper West Side thoroughfare

    I’ve been living on the Upper West Side since the early ’90s when the area was not quite the vibrant corridor it is now. One of the curious developments in the urban fabric of Columbus Avenue are the skinny shops that exist between buildings. A while back ScoutingNY pointed out one of the skinniest magazine shops in New York, the Smoke Shop at 208 Columbus Avenue (pictured below, its official name is quite amazingly, the “Amazing Store & Smoke Shop.”). This isn’t a one-off occurrence however. The occupation of these narrow shops between buildings is part of a special zoning plan from the city of New York, which seems to have reinforced and/or extended already existing usages of in-between spaces along this avenue.

    T
    he Amazing Store & Smoke Shop: 208 Columbus Avenue

    Columbus Avenue between 72nd and 87th Streets, and a large swatch of Amsterdam Avenue is part of the Upper West Side Special Enhanced Commercial District. These districts are instituted in order to “promote and maintain a lively and engaging pedestrian experience along commercial avenues.” [Zoning Resolution Article XIII Ch. 2]. In addition to a 50% minimum for commercial activity along the street wall, it also allows for freedom in store size and configuration:

    Overall store sizes are not restricted, and stores can be laid out with any configuration, including the basement, second story, wrapping behind, or along corner frontages.
    More specifically, it allows for the unique in-between building spaces to be activated:

    Any ground floor level use with a non-conforming street wall width may be continued or changed to another use
    permitted by the applicable district regulations.

    Here’s a roundup of some of these unique shops along Columbus Avenue:



    Gas Bijoux Boutique (originally from France)


    Reamir & Co Barber at 303 Columbus Avenue, where most of the barbers are from Kazakhstan


    John’s Shoe Repair at 190 Columbus Avenue


    Chase Bank and a little section of the Crocs store occupy this space on Columbus Avenue and 72nd Street


    Creative decoration on the extension of Wine & Roses at 286 Columbus Avenue


    Between Unleashed and Thomas Drugs on Columbus Avenue between 66th and 67th Street


    Sido Falafel (with the red awning) at 267 Columbus Avenue


    Golden Key Locksmith 328-A Columbus Avenue

    This one is not a shop at all but is my personal favorite, located between the old Pioneer supermarket and the restaurant Tenzan at 289 Columbus Avenue. I wonder if the pediment design was left over from any previous buildings that used to be on this site:



    According to Streetsblog, skinny storefronts allow for cheaper rents and more independent stores, giving shoppers more options:

    In short, the old style is a hands-down win for pedestrians. Everyone knows this – that’s one reason old retail areas in cities and towns across America have far more character than the new ones. But they just don’t build them like they used to.
    Indeed, many of the shops on Columbus Avenue are quite narrow, even if not between buildings. New shops are opening every day, like the new French tea shop Palais des Thes at 194 Columbus Avenue which opened this morning. As Upper West Siders, we’re proud that at least Columbus Avenue has zoning in place to ensure a vibrant walking experience, despite the drastic changes on Broadway over the last 20 years.


    French tea brand Palais des Thes opens today in a former dry cleaning location. They directly source teas from around the world.

    http://untappedcities.com/newyork/20...lumbus-avenue/

  10. #205

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    Exactly what the doctor ordered.

  11. #206
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    ^ What, French tea...or...?

    Long time, no hear, ablarc. Great to see you here again.

    I hope your "doctor" reference doesn't mean anything serious? Best wishes from Oz.

  12. #207

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    ^ Doctor of Urbanity prescribes wee mom-and-pops for scale and diversity.

    (Also help control cellulite.)

  13. #208
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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    Exactly what the doctor ordered.
    welcome back. long time no post!

  14. #209

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    I was on the UWS on March 9th and walked by Gray's. I cannot wait for that filthy eyesore to come down. A grease fire started by a bunch of burning rats would be appropriate. Thereafter, I'd like a neoclasical, brick and limestone structure on this site.

  15. #210
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    That might be what you'd like, but you'd end up getting a pile like the metal and glass thing that went up across Broadway.

    Long Live Gray's!!

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