Sunday, September 18, 2011

History Down the Block

When you walk down the streets in NYC, you're really walking through history.

I'm not just talking about the historic sights or tourist attractions. I'm not talking about passing great buildings like the Empire State or places like Fraunces Tavern. I'm talking about the homes and businesses that make up our neighborhoods, and the people and families that live and have lived there, sometimes for generations. Together they tell the story of our city.

And that history surrounds us -- and we interact with it daily. 

I've lived in two neighborhoods in NYC -- Morningside Heights and Astoria -- and in both there are people who have lived there for decades, if not all there lives. They remember the old stores, the old buildings. They remember when there was a movie theater on that corner, a fish store on that. I remember the old mom and pop drugstore that sadly went out of business -- replaced by the chain drugstores. But I'm heartened that Chinese laundry that opened in the 1950s is still there. 

And there are still some of these old businesses hanging on in our city. In this era of chain stores, franchises, and mega-marts, these are defiant stand-outs that have managed to survive the corporate onslaught. A great article today looks at how some of these small businesses have hung on while the neighborhoods they exist in have changed -- some for the better, some for the worse -- but how they have all kept the history of their neighborhoods alive. We should be thankful and grateful that they have. 

Of course, nothing lasts forever. Some day all of these businesses will be gone. History will be replaced with more history (hey, even Borders is going out of business so not even the big stores are immune).   

Of course, nothing lasts forever. Some day, all of these businesses will gone. For example, the original Ray's pizza is closing in Little Italy. Not the Original Ray's Pizza or Ray's Original Pizza or any of the countless Ray's knock-offs -- no, the original Ray's Pizza that's been a hallmark of its neighborhood since 1959. This was an iconic pizza shop, a place where New Yorkers of all stripes went to get a slice. No more. On September 25, it will close. And a little bit of NYC's history will be lost. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep it civil, intelligent, and expletive-free. Otherwise, opine away.