Evidently, this has been in the rumor mill for a while, but I've just learned that the Knitting Factory is closing. Well, technically, it's moving from the space it's occupied for the last fourteen years in TriBeCa and re-locating to Brooklyn. Whatever. It's leaving Manhattan which -- to my mind - basically means it is ceasing to exist (see also Rocks in Your Head). I find this to be a colossal bummer and further evidence that downtown is dead (this, of course, is hardly news).
I still remember the old Knitting Factory on East Houston, where I saw acts like the Meat Puppets and Sonic Youth (performing as "Sonic Death"). That space split in two and became Botanica (the bar downstairs) and a cheap-o compact disc shop upstairs for a short while before morphing into a succession of restaurants. There is now a gargantuan condo in the works right next to it, surprise surprise. The "newer" Knitting Factory opened into a much greater space in TriBeCa in 1994, featuring multiple floors, stages, rooms and bars. I remember seeing a number of great shows there over the years, including artists like Steve Wynn, Elliott Smith, The Billy Nayer Show, The Wedding Present, Miles Hunt and Jonathan Richman.
I don't know when the Knitting Factory is officially shutting its doors, but it will be sorely missed when it goes. Yet another live music Manhattan institution bites the dust.