Monday, December 31, 2007
Houston Street is Changing
I don't want to be one of those people who hate every new building that goes up. I want to remain positive about living in a vibrant city that changes with the times. It is very easy to be sentimental when the physical mementos of "the good old days" disappear, seemingly overnight. But it's not really overnight, it's evolving.
I read today that the last matzoh factory (Streits) on the Lower East Side is selling their building and moving to New Jersey. My landlord is renovating at least 5 units in our building, and at least that many in the adjacent building. All four corners at the end of my block have empty stores and are in some form or other under construction. The church on the next block over has been sold and the rumor is they will build a 30-story NYU dorm in its spot. The Sunday flea market in the church parking lot has already been halted, though construction hasn't started yet. Every empty lot on my block now has a building on it except for the 3 gardens and the playground. We have no butcher or fish store within a reasonable walking distance. Gristedes turned into a Duane Reade. I wonder what the old Duane Reade will turn into. Probably a bar or a fast food place.
Yesterday we walked down Houston Street to see the new New Museum (which was pretty great). Built on the Bowery it is the first new construction for a museum in New York in a very long time. It's basically a concrete building wrapped in a metal mesh. You can see in the photo the lights on the 4th cube up from the bottom. The next photo was taken out of that window. The museum is spacious enough to feel that each piece is displayed properly but not so big that it is overwhelming. We spent around an hour in there, without rushing, which was perfect, and left me wanting more without the after effect of exhibits blurring together and before my feet and back start aching. The singular problem I had was I didn't like how they labeled the sculptures--it was hard to match up the piece with the artist's name.
On the walk over there we noticed that most of the construction that had been going on is now finished. Probably the most shocking retailer is the new Whole Foods, along with a Whole Foods beer store. Only beer.
Glass buildings are everywhere, juxtaposed next to 19th and 20th century buildings . The changing architecture and landscape is at a very special moment right now, with the new next to the old. I don't want to hate those glass buildings, but I can't help it, I do.