Monday, January 12, 2009

Superior Ink

Before it was demolished in '07 to make way for yet another condostrosity, Superior Ink stood tall and proud on West Street, its humble facade a solid reminder of the working class folk that once populated the West Village.  Now I suppose it wasn't a particularly beautiful building as architecture goes, but I think it says a lot about American values, from an era when we actually manufactured things, and the economy was strong.  Superior Ink is still alive and well out in Jersey, it's still one of the largest commercial ink suppliers in the USA.  But I miss its big, bold former home on my Hudson River walks.       



23 comments:

Virginia said...

OH I love those numbers on that corregated steel. Why? I don't know. Guess it looks retro sort of. KM , there are too many of these nice old places vacant. I'm sad too.
V

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

The face of all these places is changing in so many ways. Each year I go back and discover new buildings in place of the old. A pity.

Lori Skoog said...

Ken...Glad you are enjoying the farm life. Thanks for the comments.

Babooshka said...

Reminds me of Birmingham UK where I'm actually from. They tidied up(sound familiar) the area around canal basin to the detriment of terrific buildng like these. When to improve or when to rip the heart out of a place. Town planners! Maybe we should try that with them.

Jarart said...

This building looks like it would have made great lofts. A shame to destroy the old things.

JM said...

I find the building just great! One more reason to say I'm sorry...
This is such a shame! If you only knew Republica Avenue in Lisbon as I still can remember it, you would be schocked when looking at all those glass/mirrowed buildings now instead of the previous douzens of stunning Art Nouveau villas...

Vanilla Press said...

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Jas
Ireland

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

Love the smoke stack! Great shot!

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

Paz said...

I'm glad they're still in business even though they're no longer in the city. That's too bad.

Paz

Cimba7200 said...

Interesting historical Americana - Dave

Anonymous said...

My husband and I live directly across the street from the Superior Ink site, in Westbeth, where every day, from our living room window, we watch the hideous condo and townhouses going up. Most people don't know that before Superior Ink sold ink, it was the original Nabisco building, where they invented Oreos, and Mallomars! Now they have the nerve to call the new building the "Superior" condos. 25 or so years ago, movie stars wouldn't be caught dead in this neighborhood, close to the Meatpacking District, with its rotting piers and transvestite prostitutes on every street. Then the artists moved in, making it respectable, and now they're fighting each other to get into the "Gold Coast." I hear the new condos will start at $6 million, and the townhouses, finished in fake brick, will start at $12 million. The rumor is that Hilary Swank has bought one. There goes the neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

I live in the neighborhood too. I have lived there prior to any of the new condos being built on the waterfront. I actually think that the new building on this site is the nicest of the bunch. Of course in this neighborhood complaining that the village isn't what it used to be dates back to when the Westbeth was the Bell Labs. The problem is that when residents complain about every development, no matter their merit, they lose credibility. If you look at this new building alongside the Westbeth, it is well-integrated aesthetically into the neighborhood and the waterfront and should be praised for that.

Anonymous said...

There are many cities in the country today that would love to be in the same position as that of the West Village: having developers buy aging, defunct, derelict and abandoned warehouses and turn them into income generating housing for residents.

Superior Ink wasn't making it financially, otherwise they wouldn't have sold to the Related Co. Rather than having this valuable piece of property sit vacant, it's being developed. This project will generate a lot of tax dollars for a city that's in the throes of a very serious fiscal situation.

And the tax dollars that the city collects will help support the kind of starving artists that live directly across the street, who are bashing this project and the people who will live there.

Artists seem to live in a world where money is secondary to their way of life. But it's that same dollar that the city needs to help support the future generation of up and coming artists.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to disagree with you, but the Village is not like other neighborhoods. It has a character all its own, dating back to its bohemian days, when it was a refuge for artists, writers, and playwrights. In the case of the West Village, the artists moved in and made it respectable for the accountants and investment bankers to move in. That would be fine, but greedy developers are building condos for the super-rich, and attempting to get everyone else out. Westbeth was built for artists. The Board of Directors, in many insidious ways, are trying to turn Westbeth into a condo. They're trying to raise the rent 60%, and sub-meter the apartments. HUD won't allow this, of course, so we're safe for now. But the character of the West Village, as a low-rise, neighborhood, an actual village, is changing, not for the better. Watch out that Related, and Gwathmey-Siegel, don't move in on your neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to break the news, but the life of Greenwich Village did not start with its bohemain artists days. The West Village was one of the city's first African American neighborhoods and was a center of commerce (not art) with its bustling waterfront packed with shipping lines. The artists themselves are gentrifiers, yet they want to preserve one era in amber and declare their mythical view of the neighborhood as the definitive village for all time. Furthermore, this halcyon artists' village they speak of was not even centered in the Far West Village. The bohemian movement was based around Washington Square Park and its surrounding cafes in the central village, nowhere near the waterfront.

Anonymous said...

It is very strange to refer to Superior Ink as ugly. The architect for the complex is the acclaimed Robert A.M. Stern, and the materials being used seem to be of high quality.

But I agree with those who oppose the new development. Its much better to have the vacant factory than the condos. And much better would be if the City did what it could to make sure Superior Ink could stay in the city -- subsidies or whatever it took. Its a shame that we have lost so many manufacturing jobs; people obviously liked working in factories a lot more than they like working in offices.

It would probably be a good idea if the city prevented any new condos from being built, unless they are 4 stories or smaller height. In order to prevent rents from soaring, the city should cap all rents at $1200, except for those making over $100,000. In order to prevent landlords from screwing over their tenants paying only $1200, the city should hire 10,000 more inspectors and 311 phone operators. In order to pay for that, the city will need to raise taxes a lot, but it will only affect the rich and they are evil.

A lot of the city will rot but that will be good because grit is what makes the city real. Polished new things are fake.

A city of immigrants -- I'm sure when immigrants came to NYC, they were thinking, "I can't wait to get me some of that grit." You don't want anything too polished or new.. I want the city to be as much like the Third World as possible so I can better empathize with people living in the developing world.

LIBERALS WHO OPPOSE NEW DEVELOPMENT -- TAKE AN ECON 101 COURSE -- THINK OF BOTH SIDES OF THE EQUATION -- AND TAKE A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE -- CITIES CHANGE.

ALSO IF YOU DON'T LIKE DENSITY, MOVE UPSTATE. THIS IS NYC FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.

Anonymous said...

I really, truly miss the beautiful old structure that was on the site BEFORE the Superior Ink plant was built. I'm not sure what it was exactly, or what it looked like but it surely must have been nicer than the printing plant that replaced it. Of course, that much earlier building was torn down nearly 100 years ago, but still.

Oh, and I miss the lovely place that was demolished to make way for the Bell Lab building, which then became Westbeth. And even though that building was torn down about 120 years ago, I miss it more than you can imagine.

Traveling said...

It is a very nice and good post. Keep up the good work.

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