News came down a few days ago via The Lowdown that Katz's Delicatessen on the southwest corner of Ludlow Street and East Houston was "selling its air rights." Essentially, what this means is that there's going to be a building constructed on top of the fabled L.E.S. institution. Earnest assurances have been made that the storied restaurant isn't going anywhere, nor will it close for a single day whilst (yet another) tower is built over it.
Sure that all sounds nice, but I remember hearing the EXACT SAME THING when the air rights were sold over the late, lamented Cedar Tavern on University Place, and we ALL KNOW what happened next.
While it's a bit touristy, I logged many an hour in Katz's myself, usually after a heroic amount of beers consumed in the largely now-vanished bars of Ludlow Street in the 1990s. I even attended a festive "pastrami toss" there, when Cop Shoot Cop signed with a major label. Katz's, meanwhile, is probably most famous for being the location of a laboriously over-referenced scene from "When Harry Met Sally."
I've lamented the changes to Ludlow Street a couple of times here already. The northern end of the strip in question used to be an endearingly desolate area (although said desolation sometimes came with a price). Now, much like the westernmost end of Spring Street on the other side of town, real estate developers seem feverishly intent on making it a densely populated hive of monied exclusivity.
With all this in mind, I exhumed a photograph I took with my then-new wide angle lens in 1998 (click on it to enlage). Here's a potentially final glimpse of the bright, empty skies over Katz's and the northern end of Ludlow Street. And I wouldn't be surprised at all if Katz's was soon to vanish too. Just sayin'.