Back in December, you may remember, I composed a weepy litle entry about the death of the New York City diner, prompted by the sudden closings of long-time Greenwich Village greasy spoons like Silvers Spurs on East 9th and Broadway and the University Restaurant on East 12th and University Place. Places to procure eats on the cheap in my neighborhood are vanishing with the quickness.
Anyway, as much as I love to lord my status as a native New Yorker and arguably hip downtowner (this means nothing anymore .. if it ever did) over people, if truth be told, I actually grew up on the not-at-all hip Upper East Side, and didn't officially move south of 14th street until 1996. Most of my tweens and teens were spent roaming the leafy byways of Carnegie Hill and Yorkville.
In any case, this past weekend, I brought my kids back uptown to go romp around in Central Park. After a beautiful, sunlit morning of strenuous running about, I suggested that we go get some lunch. Since we were near one of my former neighborhoods, I figured we could go grab a burger at the age-old Jackson Hole diner on the corner of East 91st Street and Madison Avenue. That sounded like a reasonable plan.
For a large swathe of my childhood, I lived on East 93rd Street. My sister went to school on East 91st and I attended one on East 89th. As such, Jackson Hole was kinda ground zero, and a place we both frequented for fries, burgers and the like. In the early 80's, there was a candy store next door called The Sweet Suite, featuring a second tier that boasted a "Missle Command" machine you could re-start without needing a quarter. I remember buying a several dorky rock pins (Pink Floyd, primarily) at the Sweet Suite and then repairing to Jackson Hole with some friends and affixing them to my backpack over a plate of fries. It was that kinda place.
Back here in 2014, as I was regaling my disinterested children with such tales while we walked up the avenue, I was shocked and saddened to find Jackson Hole gone, its shades drawn down and a big "FOR LEASE" sign in its window. Normally, I'd have taken a picture, but I was too depressed by the sight of it.
The place had been there since about 1972. It had a few other incarnations around town (one on the Upper West and another over on Second Avenue), but I don't know if the same fate has befallen them. I stood there with my mouth agape for a moment, before breaking the news to my hungry kiddies that we'd have to go somewhere else.
Around 1985, my family moved over to East 86th Street off York Avene. When we lived there, one of my regular stops was Gracie's Corner, another diner over on First Avenue and 86th. Today, I learned that that's going too.
My city is vanishing before my eyes.