Yesterday, EV Grieve posted the dispiriting-but-not-at-all-surprising news that the former footprint of the storied Mars Bar on 1st Street and Second Avenue is shortly to become a -- WAIT FOR IT -- bank branch. Does it matter that there's already one up the street on the corner of Bowery and 1st Street? Apparently not. More than any other single strip of real estate in Manhattan, I can't conceive of a street that's changed as much in the last ten years. As I scribbled balefully about it back in 2008...
Not even that long ago, this strip -- tucked between CBGB, the Mars Bar and 295 Bowery (otherwise known as the infamous old site of McGurk's Suicide Hall) -- was an intriguingly desolate little backwater. Now it's a cold, chillingly quiet canyon of glass and steel. Massive new buildings have been erected on either side of the street, their ground floors festooned with idealized images of their target demographic. I still associate this street with CBGB and its accompanying scene of the 80's and 90's.
Obviously, it was only to get much worse from there. I had a similar reaction last weekend. On a stroll around the Lower East Side, I found myself on the southernmost tip of Orchard Street. I weepily lamented the 2009 closing of the great Good World Bar and Grill right there on the corner of Orchard and Division Streets. Today, not only Good World gone, but the entire building's been demolished, replaced by yet another priapic new modern structure that sticks out like a set-piece from "The Jetsons."
For more about the doings on the forcibly re-imagined 1st Street, and a particular, since-vanished address's significance, I would once again point you in the direction of this incredibly documentary.
The picture at the top of this post, meanwhile, was one I first spotted on EV Grieve's blog back in October of 2011. This photograph, taken by one Steve Carter, displays the demolition circa 1997 of XOXO, just across the street from the former Mars Bar. I just find this photograph to be very powerful.
The photo below is one I took around 2002 of 295 Bowery up on the western side of the block.