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Thread: Upper West Side Story

  1. #16

    Default Barney Greengrass

    Barney Greengrass: 100 Years as 'Sturgeon King'

    By MARK GIANNOTTO, Special to the Sun
    June 11, 2008

    Customers calling Barney Greengrass's appetizing emporium on the Upper West Side may find themselves on the phone with Moe, the 2-year-old son of owner Gary Greengrass. "Barney" and "Greengrass" are two of the first words Moe learned, according to his father.

    Click for multi-image slideshow >

    Ben Parker

    Celebrating its 100-year anniversary today, the self-proclaimed "Sturgeon King," which specializes in smoked fish, has become a New York institution and remains family-owned. That doesn't mean Mr. Greengrass, 48, isn't concerned about what his only son might choose to do in the future.

    "He might disappoint me and become a doctor or a lawyer," Mr. Greengrass said with a smile yesterday.

    To celebrate its centennial today, the restaurant is turning back the clock to 1908 prices. That means customers can enjoy modern-day novelties like a 15-cent coffee (normally $2.25), eggs with a side of Nova Scotia salmon costing $1.40 (normally $10), or a $1.75 sturgeon (normally $17.50).

    Under the ownership of its namesake, Barney Greengrass originally opened in 1908 at the corner of West 113th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem. It moved to its current location in 1929.

    Mr. Greengrass has tried to maintain the restaurant's authenticity with relics of the past, such as wallpaper that has been hanging for 50 years and a refrigerator that's so old his father used to call it an icebox. But the business has expanded in ways its founder could have never imagined.

    Nowadays, Barney Greengrass has a burgeoning mail-order service that ships its signature smoked fish around the world, as well as a catering service for all sorts of events. There's another restaurant bearing the same name in Beverly Hills. The New York restaurant, which includes a sit-down area and a takeout counter, served President Franklin Roosevelt, George Burns, Jerry Seinfeld, and tens of thousands of ordinary Upper West Siders over the years.

    Family-owned Jewish-style restaurants are facing challenges. The Second Avenue Deli in the East Village was forced to close because of rising rents and later reopened further uptown and closer to Third Avenue.

    Barney Greengrass, though, has stuck to its gills.

    "On one hand, we want to change with the times, but on the other hand we're like an old, comfortable shoe," Mr. Greengrass said. "I don't know any other places that focus in on the smoked fish."

    Some customers said they came not just for the fish but to support a family-operated business of a sort that used to be more abundant in the city.

    "I think a lot of us come here because we're afraid it's going to disappear," said a 52-year-old grant strategist, Robert Sawyer, who said he's been a patron for 30 years.

    That's a fear he'll have to take up with the youngest Greengrass, next time he calls.

    © 2008 The New York Sun,

  2. #17
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    East Midtown


    I would have gone up there yesterday had I known about the prices placed at 1908 levels! I always hear about these things too late.
    What a great way to celebrate 100 years. I hope it's around for a long time to come.

  3. #18


    They probably kept the news down to locals and regulars until it was over.

    But it would have been nice to take part in it. I have only been there once.

    Have you been there before MTG?

  4. #19


    Landmark P&G Bar Just an Afterthought on Newly Stylish Amsterdam Avenue

    by Chris Shott
    10:00 am

    Chris Shott

    The Daily News today examines the ongoing retail turnover on Amsterdam Avenue, where rents now hover around $250 per square foot.
    "It's no longer full of beer halls and guys with backward baseball caps watching the game," said Rafe Evans, a broker at Walker Malloy.

    Oddly, the article makes no mention of the neighborhood's most recognizable beer hall, the endangered P&G Bar, which is expected to take down its iconic (and landmark-designated) signage and move out when its lease expires on Dec. 31, after more than six decades at the corner of Amsterdam and West 73rd Street.
    Its latest rumored replacement: Baby Gap.

    Salumeria Rosi, an Italian-style specialty foods store, joins trendy chocolatier Jacques Torres as the P&G's new neighbors on the rapidly changing block.
    "The stores now have style where, before, they were utilitarian," said Stu Morden, managing director at Newmark Knight Frank, which inked the Salumeria deal.

    © 2008 Observer Media Group,

  5. #20


    Please Gawd NO...Not ANOTHER baby Gap!

  6. #21


    Quote Originally Posted by brianac View Post
    ... which is expected to take down its iconic (and landmark-designated) signage and move out when its lease expires on Dec. 31 ...
    Where will the sign end up?

  7. #22


    At the Chase-Manhattan Museum of Lost New York.

  8. #23


    P & G Bar. June 2007 view across Verdi Square.

    P & G Bar. Window display June 2007.

    P & G Bar. April 2005

  9. #24
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    I can see Stuy Town


    the Verdi Sq Deli!

    that's gone now....

  10. #25


    Verdi Square Deli. Yes I noticed that had gone.

    I first noticed it in the Richard Gere/Julia Roberts 1999 film "Runaway Bride". when Richard Gere was seen entering the P & G.
    Last edited by brianac; August 5th, 2008 at 07:53 PM.

  11. #26


    Upper West Side

    Not Only Elm Street Is Losing Its Muse

    Published: August 9, 2008

    IN the heat of summer, people with young children and those with dogs walk along the sun-dappled sidewalks of Riverside Drive beneath a canopy of green-gold leaves. Of all the shade trees, the American elm offers some of the best protection from the sun.

    G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
    “You feel like you’re losing a part of a family,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe of trees that have succumbed to Dutch elm disease.

    Yet, several weeks ago, a painter named Asia Ingalls returned from vacation in Alaska to her home at West 104th Street and Riverside Drive to the sound of chain saws. Three elms were being removed across the street from her apartment building.

    “I was devastated by their loss,” said Ms. Ingalls, who has known the trees ever since she was a child 40 years ago, when she used to gaze at them from her bedroom window.

    When she called the Riverside Park Fund, a nonprofit group that finances projects in the park, she was told what other concerned neighbors had learned: The hardy trees had fallen victim to Dutch elm disease, a fungal blight with which the parks department was all too familiar.

    “I think we could have done a better job publicizing it,” acknowledged Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who lives nearby. “You feel like you’re losing a part of a family. I’ve pretty much known these trees all my life.”

    The highly contagious disease, which is carried by bark beetles, decimated the country’s population of elms during the 1960s and ’70s, leaving many of the nation’s “Elm Streets” without their namesakes.

    New York may have fared better than much of the rest of the country because of the vigilance of the parks department and because tree beds here are often separated by concrete rather than soil, preventing the disease from spreading through the root network. As a result, Riverside Park and Central Park are some of the best places left to see mature elms.

    Once a tree is infected, however, it cannot be cured.

    “For the past three or four years, we’ve lost 10 to 20 trees a year,” said James Dowell, the president of the Riverside Park Fund. “And some, obviously, are much more noticeable than others.”

    Fourteen of about 300 mature elms have been already removed from Riverside Park this year, and Mr. Benepe hopes that no more trees will have to be cut down. Those removed will be replaced with the more resistant Princeton elm.

    A new program began this summer to inoculate some of the healthy elms by injecting fungicide into the trees with a device resembling an IV line, which offers several years of protection. Mr. Dowell estimates it could cost up to $1,000 to treat a single tree, but the treatment is less costly and less devastating than removal.

    Where three elms once stood together casting shade between 103rd and 104th Streets, now stand three stumps. A passer-by with a blue pen had carefully numbered every ring on one stump, marking off the tree’s first year to its last, and had written a simple eulogy: “73 years old.”

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  12. #27


    Upper West Side

    It’s Bullets Over Broadway as New Benches Are Unveiled

    Librado Romero/The New York Times
    Benches along the Broadway malls are being torn up to make way for redesigned seating to the dismay of some residents.

    Published: August 24, 2008

    ONE way to pass a long summer afternoon would be to stroll the length of Broadway from 60th to 168th Streets, and note that the wood and iron benches on the center malls all look pretty much the same. Modeled on the bench designed for the 1939 World’s Fair, they are sturdy, stately and, unless one objects to the slight flourish of circular armrests, generally unobjectionable.

    Rendering by Grimshaw Architects
    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled a plan to install semicircular benches at the 76th, 86th and 91st Street malls.

    The continuity of design is not coincidental, according to Margaret Doyle, the vice president of the Broadway Mall Association, a group that maintains the benches between those two points, along with the city’s parks department.

    “I’ve been trying very hard for a long time to just make the street furniture the same, the same, the same,” Ms. Doyle said one day recently.

    But a break in the line may be in the offing. Last month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled a plan to install semicircular benches at the 76th, 86th and 91st Street malls that would represent a significant stylistic departure from the existing model. The benches would be attached to bicycle racks that stretch over subway grates, which are being raised and reconfigured in response to flooding last summer.

    The plan has roused opposition among local officials and community board members.

    “The Upper West Side has distinct and repetitive features that define the neighborhood,” Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal wrote to the agency last month, “and the Broadway Mall benches are one of these features.” She asked the agency to reconsider its plan.

    In Ms. Rosenthal’s opinion, the semicircular benches could alter the cherished experience of passing a few quiet moments on the malls amid the whir of traffic, and maybe even make things a little awkward.

    “The bench would provide kind of intimate seating,” she acknowledged in an interview. “But you don’t want to make friends on the bench. You just want to sit there.”

    Aaron Donovan, a transportation authority spokesman, said the agency was taking the community’s concerns into consideration and would unveil a new plan, possibly this month, although he added that he did not expect it to differ significantly from the first plan.

    Ms. Doyle said she understood the need for flood control, but she added that the three-birds-with-one-stone approach would compromise the continuity of appearance that her group has strived to achieve.

    “The design is quite nice,” Ms. Doyle said of the planned benches, “but it is not nice for Broadway.”

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  13. #28


    ^ Well, there goes my retirement plan.

    My plan was to retire to a little efficiency on West End Avenue and spend my days sitting in the Broadway median on one of those benches --perfect for watching the world go by and deciding the exact degree of interaction with your benchmates. Now the nature of those interactions has all been decided by the nannies who concocted the new design --and it's not the kind of interaction that meshes with my plans.

    (Oh-oh, there's one reason: the dreaded Grimshaw, worldwide purveyor of the awfuls.)

    What a waste.

  14. #29


    Upper West Side

    Little Boxes, Far From the Hillside

    Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
    “We just sit and stare,” says Melissa Gavilanes, who works nearby.

    Published: August 30, 2008

    EIGHT stories above Broadway, on the southeast corner of 97th Street, construction is near completion on three little houses that sit atop a turn-of-the-century apartment building.

    Tan in color, they have jaunty oval windows and tiny gabled roofs. On a recent morning, workers in hard hats scurried about porches resembling those in a community of hillside tract houses.

    “I’ve received calls from people asking about those units, especially since they started putting decks up there,” said Edward Balazs of A.A.G. Management, the building’s agent. “There are many different types of penthouses, but it’s rare that they have the gabled roofs.”

    He believes that the inquiries may be coming from residents whose apartments look out from the higher floors of neighboring buildings, since the units are barely visible from the street.

    According to Mr. Balazs, the building’s owners, the real estate developers Anne and Arnold Gumowitz, have chosen to keep silent about the addition until it is completed, and have not advertised the units. No one will say exactly when the construction will be completed.

    Yet, it is hard to keep such a secret. Those with the privileged vantage of elevation have been able to watch the little houses go up over the past year and a half, and have followed developments with curiosity, envy and contempt.

    Manny Salas, the building’s overnight concierge, says he is asked by several neighbors a week if he knows the prices of the little houses on the roof. The units will be rentals, but Mr. Salas is unsure what the rents will be.

    “I think they have adjustable central air,” he said of the houses. “And attics.”

    One of the best views is from the Columbia, the 35-story condominium directly across Broadway at 96th Street, particularly from its 12th-floor health club. Those who work out there dwell, like most New Yorkers, in rooms with walls that are shared by neighbors and ceilings that serve as other people’s floors. In this crowded city, an attic is a rare thing.

    “It’s the talk of the building,” said Melissa Gavilanes, the manager on duty at the health club recently. She has been polling residents about how many units they thought the penthouses had. “We just sit and stare,” she said.

    Doron Rice, an architect who was holding a large pair of barbells, peered out the window. “You want my opinion?” he said, “It’s out of context. It’s not the same materials, and it’s not the same scale. It looks like it was dropped here from somewhere in Long Island.”

    But Ms. Gavilanes found the penthouses alluring. “I would get a car,” she said, “and put it out in the driveway. And then I’d add a white picket fence, and AstroTurf. Maybe have a golden retriever playing in the yard.”

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  15. #30
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    ^ I can smell the stucco-covered dry-vit from here

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