Our Changing City: Lost New York City Institutions

We got all riled up with today's earlier news, the imminent closing of classic Meatpacking eatery/hangout Florent. Longing for a golden age that never existed is just a trick that our elders use to make themselves think that the time they came up in was the one of true authenticity. But we can't help but notice the sheer volume of New York City institutions—from bars to oddities to restaurants to vice emporiums—that have closed over a short amount of time. Here's a gallery featuring as many as we could think of—and if we missed any that you think are important, let us know!

1.) The Tower of Toys, by artist Eddie Boro, has been in the community garden at 6th Street and Avenue B for twenty years. It was recently dismantled. Why? It's five stories tall and on the verge of collapse! Its creator is dead, but he once said that he wasn't concerned with what happened to the Tower after he was gone. Reported the Villager, "NYPD Blue featured the tower in its opening credits and a half-size replica of it graces the stage of "RENT," the East Village rock opera."

Our Changing City: Lost New York City Institutions


[Photo: New York Daily Photo]

2.) Florent: As we reported earlier, due to astronomical rent increases, the French neighborhood distro and clubkid hangout will close June 29, 2008.

Our Changing City: Lost New York City Institutions


[Photo: Micawave's Flickr]

3.) Fulton Fish Market: Located in Lower Manhattan since 1882, it moved to the Bronx in 2005.

Our Changing City: Lost New York City Institutions


[Photo: Keith Kin Yan at Overshadowed]

4.) Tonic: The music club, which mostly featured electronic and experimental music, also had rehearsal spaces for musicians—and increasing, and expensive, rarity. Closed in 2007 due to rent hikes. "As a business, we take responsibility for mistakes made along the way. If profit had been our chief motivation we could have changed our programming to something more mainstream and financially lucrative. Instead we were more committed to a certain type of music and loyal to the community that supported us." (The ominous Blue Condominium now stands next door.)

Our Changing City: Lost New York City Institutions




5.) The Playpen: The frighteningly large porn store, and one of the last remaining live-girl peepshows, closed in July 2007. The Beaux-Arts theater, built in 1916, was sold to a developer and razed—it will rise again as a luxury high-rise.

Our Changing City: Lost New York City Institutions


[Dave Gorman's Flickr]

6.) CBGBs: Seminal Bowery punk club since 1973; closed 2006. Now a John Varvatos store, selling $200 t-shirts.

Our Changing City: Lost New York City Institutions

7.) Siberia: It was a shitty Hell's Kitch bar, but God damn it, it was our shitty Hell's Kitchen bar. Closed 'round 2007. "I've never been more offended by a bartender in all my time in NYC. Talk about rude... Also, the band we heard was awful - the drummer and guitarist were completely out of sync with one another," commented somebody on NY Mag's review of the place.

Our Changing City: Lost New York City Institutions


[Photo: Thousand Bars and Beyond]


8.) Coney Island's Astroland: It's not being torn down, but it is being redeveloped. We love America's seediest beach just how it is.

Our Changing City: Lost New York City Institutions