Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ghosts of the Keller Hotel

NYT: "THE KELLER HOTEL, an old seaman’s inn, has seen a few tides come and go. An Irish coal merchant constructed it in the late 1890s along a salty stretch of the Greenwich Village waterfront, at a time when the docks there were some of the busiest in the world. During the Depression, the Keller served as a flophouse for out-of-work sailors, who boozed and brawled in its ground-floor saloon. As the decades passed and economic forces pushed ships toward other ports, the West Side docks rotted, the Village deteriorated and a new clientele moved into the Keller. By the 1980s, the city was housing indigents upstairs, while the downstairs tenant was a gay leather bar, reputedly New York’s oldest. Then, in 1985, a real estate investor named William Gottlieb purchased the property for $1 million."
Since then the Keller has sat vacant while neighboring buildings were granted landmark status. I love the old Keller ruin. Look closely at the fine architectural detail (can you spot the 666?), you can almost smell the ghosts of a thousand lives that passed through the Keller's doors. Reportedly the birthplace of disco, the Village People photographed their debut album cover here. Now, Keller's ghosts whisper as you walk by the corner of West and Barrow, their secrets most likely awaiting the wrecking ball.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Welcome to Yonkers

Now where exactly is Yonkers you may be asking? I'm not totally sure, but I believe it is in the northern part of the city. I was up there a few weeks ago on business and was simply floored by all the cool neon. Bakeries, diners, more neon than 1950s Times Square. ! Well, I can dream can't I?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Make A Plan?

You can consider this gov't warning sign two ways: That the local NYC gov't is concerned that terrorists or Mother Nature are likely to wreak havoc eventually so literally get your house in order, or, if you're like me, you gotta wonder, does the national gov't know something that we don't?

Monday, July 28, 2008


Waiting for my Chinese spare ribs. I was raised in NC, where they take BBQ very seriously. But they like it with vinegar and stuff like that. Too weird. How do you take your BBQ?

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I'm not usually very good at capturing action shots. Heck, I'm not usually very good at capturing people! But I got lucky with these skatepunks in the East Village. Teenagers don't care if you photograph them, they're too busy having fun! I thought the action capture and perspective was good, and from my old Panasonic DZ18. Lots of good action in the background too if you click/enlarge the pic. hint hint...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jarmulowsky's Bank

NY TIMES: Sender Jarmulowsky arrived in the United States from Russia in the early 1870's and by 1878 had established a bank in an existing building at the southwest corner of Canal and Orchard, already an immigrant district. In 1886, 1890, 1893 and 1901, he experienced various bank runs but proudly paid 100 cents on the dollar to each panicky depositor. In 1912, with the architects Rouse & Goldstone, Jarmulowsky put up a reserved, 12-story loft building with a bank on the ground floor at the same corner where he had established himself 30 years earlier.

It was, with its rusticated limestone lower section and a terra-cotta upper part, no barebones loft building. The entrance to the ground-floor bank at the curved corner is surmounted by two reclining figures in classical style flanking a clock. Period photographs of the banking floor show a conventional work of marble and bronze; it could have been any well-known uptown bank.

Sender Jarmulowsky died in 1912 as his building neared completion; The Times noted he left "only $501,053" as an estate, apparently expecting much more. His sons Harry and Louis continued the business. In 1917, as depositors withdrew nearly $3 million to send to overseas relatives caught in the war, the State Banking Department took over Sender Jarmulowsky's bank. It had liabilities of $1.25 million and assets of only $600,000. Over 5,000 depositors crowded around the branch and Harry and Louis Jarmulowsky were indicted for banking fraud later in the year. The bank never reopened and the building was sold at a bankruptcy auction in 1920.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Where I Wanna Be

One and a half hours from NYC, Spring Lake, New Jersey is fondly known as the "Irish Riviera."
Stately homes, lazy tree lined streets, and a non public beach (you need a monthly pass) make this a wonderful escape from Manhattan's hustle and bustle.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When Showbiz Was King

Today we celebrate Frankie & Johnnie, one of the oldest steakhouses in Manhattan. Formerly a speakeasy during 1930s prohibition days (patrons knocked on its unmarked door and whispered "Frankie" to which the doorman replied "Johnnie" and admittance was granted), F&J has consistently been voted one of the best steakhouses in America by Zagats. (click pics for enlargement)

It's easy to miss F&J's signage on 45th near 8th. But once you scale its pretty tiled staircase its history is revealed. I imagine F&J was a regular pre-show haunt for celebrities waiting to appear on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show - they autographed the many PR photos which fill the restaurant's walls. "The Odd Couple," Julie Andrews and Liza Minelli hang next to forgotten '60s celebs like Nanette Fabray, Jack Weston and the Cat Woman, Lee Meriweather.

But nothing lasts forever. Frankie & Johnnie will close by year's end, making way for another desperately needed condo for wealthy New Yorkers and tourists. History and steak make way for shopping opportunities, flush wallets, and clean sidewalks. (Hope CDP doesn't bust me for all these pics!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pray for Pills

A dilapated Lower East Side holdout amid the new construction for the rich and famous, the old Germania Bank building on Bowery is the home of one man, photographer Jay Maisel. He purchased the bank back in the 70s, when the Bowery was purely a destination for the down and out. Now, as the 'hood is being razed for shiny condos, Maisel lets his classic building rot. But it's still incredibly beautiful. The "Pray for Pills" grafitti in the last frame says it all...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What is this man doing?

Not sure what this fellow is doing between Houston and Prince on Greene Street. Seems to enjoy playing in the traffic.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Then and Now

I love this ancient cupola on top of an equally historic building at the intersection of 14th and 6th in Manhattan. The original pleated brass work is still intact though the rest of the cupola has obviously seen better days. The contrast against the new building in the background adds to the feeling of history in the making.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Please Excuse My French

That's what we used to say when uttering profanity in a "mixed" crowd. These days, at least in New York, people wear profanity on their T shirts.

These two signs express the feelings of many who live in crowded tourist destinations...that is, when the tourists lose control of themselves. I spotted the signs on tiny Jersey street below Houston in a small alleyway. So please excuse my French...I couldn't resist.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Village Doors

I remember being in London once and seeing this book on British doorways. Thus began my minor love affair with New York doorways. Photographed between King and Canal Streets....these doorways cover many different architectural styles....I find them curiously compelling. Hope you do too! (and I hope the CDP police don't bust me for multiple photos!)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vinnie the Chin

Regular GVDP visitors are familiar with my moaning/ groaning re the rapidly vanishing architecture of real New York. Numerous Village haunts are closing, but the Triangle Social Club, where many a mafia murder was planned, remains spookily alive. Contrary to public opinion (though crime rates are down), organized crime still lurks below the surface in the naked city.

WIKI: "Vincent "The Chin" Gigante (March 29, 1928December 19, 2005) was a New York mobster who headed the Genovese crime family. Dubbed "the Oddfather" by the press, Gigante often wandered the streets of Greenwich Village, Manhattan in his bathrobe and slippers, mumbling incoherently to himself, in what police characterized as an elaborate act.

"Gigante ran a crew from Greenwich Village, Manhattan, that was formerly overseen by Vito Genovese and later Anthony "Tony Bender" Strollo. Gigante's crew was based out of the Triangle Social Club, located at 208 Sullivan Street, but also met with fellow crew members at the Dante Social Club at 81 McDougal Street, and the Panel Social Club at 208 Thompson Street. Besides those locations, Gigante met with gangsters and business associates at his mother's apartment located at 225 Sullivan Street."

These days the tourists and B&Ts roaming the Village have no idea what happened on Sullivan Street. They only see this ominous facade, padlocked for years (I did see the old mobsters drinking expresso there in the late 80s) though it is regularly painted black -- the building no doubt still owned and controlled by the mob. Oddly enough, an old style mob execution, of sorts, occurred directly in front of the building in March of last year, when an auxillary police officer was gunned down right on the stoop (as reported in Gothamist Coincidence? You decide.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Italian Bread & Biscuits

A classic Italian bakery in Soho. The Village was once full of such establishments, but they are going going gone as with Zito's, formerly on Bleecker. Vesuvio's looks like the real deal, but the owner sold out to a cappuccino concern a while back. They wisely kept the turn of the century (the last one) storefront intact.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blimp Me Silly

Big blimp over the Village, last night, 8:30 pm. Good excuse to shoot sunset...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bill Ponders the Unknowable

My friend Bill and I returned to Katz's Delicatessen a few weeks ago. Rumour has it that the famed pastrami and corned beef joint (Where Harry Met Sally) has been sold, destined to become yet another Banana Republic, whole foods market or Stella McCartney. Shame....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Caruso's hangout

Montes has been in existence on MacDougal Street since 1918. When Caruso played New York (he stayed around the corner in a landmark building that now houses a drug store, though the majestic columns remain), he always ordered takeout from Montes. Wonder what he ate?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pigeon Mama

Most people despise pigeons. I know I do. But not this attentive senior citizen, who apparently sees her mission in life as making sure the local pigeon population is well fed, fat and sassy (it's illegal to feed pigeons in New York). You can see her every day, marching up MacDougal Street, bag of bread in hand, with her "children" on her mind. GRRRRRRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHHH.