Storefront Memories of Old Chelsea Yore

Chelsea 1990's

(The Image of what Old Chelsea Used to Be, always a smile. Late 1900’s)

A popular post which is currently making the rounds; The Death of Chelsea’s 8th Avenue by Kenneth in the 212 chronicles the sudden vacancies of multiple retail storefronts on Chelsea’s 8th Avenue. As a resident working around this area, this event has happened fairly suddenly, as we have seen many Chelsea standby’s close shop or depart because of asshole landlords raising rents other reasons.

These retail shops, clothing stores and coffee shops used to be the gathering spots for Chelsea’s counterculture in the 90’s and Aughts. A formidable playground for the Gay Community. A protected enclave in the bubble of New York.

These storefronts, now vacant, signify the rapid cultural shifts on the Urban Groundplane. Sheer economics, combined with the ease of internet culture has brought many businesses to their knees (One exception: Our friends at Nasty Pig would probably take this as a compliment). So, Kudos to the Old Chelsea establishments whom were able to weather this current storm.

M&S Realty

(The vacated storefront of M&S Realty, 8th Avenue, Chelsea, NY. 2015)

On a personal note, we take keen interest in the death of the M&S Real Estate storefront. Only a few years old, this buildout was completed by the popular Architecture Firm DXA Studio in 2011. For it’s brief tenure along 8th avenue, Its Hi-Tech computer screens lit up The Street like a candlestick, with local pickings’ for Rent and for Sale. The presence of this facade was welcome along a particularly lonely stretch, where it took the place of an empty Blockbuster video store. For this storefront, in summary, there have been 3 vacancies over 5 years. Something clearly is not right with this picture.

The City, as we all know by now, is pricing itself out of reasonable existence. So as not to get too deep, we’ll mention only this: These forces of societal change are making New York into a cultured enclave, mainly for the rich…and inaccessible to the rest. Storefronts like these are a testament to the twisted market forces gripping our Beloved City. Landlords would rather keep these spaces empty, then rent them to the Mom-and-Pop establishments which make an interesting Urbanscape REAL.

So, we’ll end this one on a lighter note. Kudo’s again to The Nasty Pig’s and remaining holdouts of Old Chelsea Yore; the one that remains in many of our memories. Because these memories of The City, the Old New York, are the best ones to keep when you need to pull up a smile.

Links of Relatable Note Can be Found HERE:

Kenneth in the 212

New York Before and After, from Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York

New York’s Disappearing Mom and Pop Storefronts, from Smithsonian Magazine

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