When Vintage New York Is Lost

From the NY Times

February 8, 2009
When Diners Pick Up Stakes, and Vintage New York Is Lost

Hey, Alabama, you want a piece of us?

Olde New York, that is.

Now that an Alabama couple have purchased the Cheyenne Diner on Ninth Avenue and 33rd Street, they say they are eyeing the historic Ridgewood Theater in Queens, which played movies from 1916 until it closed last year.

Ridgewood Theatre

Ridgewood Theatre

La Barge, Wyo., snared an even more revered restaurant, the Moondance Diner, which sat near the Holland Tunnel and was New York’s oldest diner.

A Sicilian town is taking an East Village video store’s legendary collection of 50,000 movies.

And from Pakistan came interest in another New York icon: the Astroland Rocket at Coney Island.

No, it’s not the faltering economy that’s putting venerable New York up for sale and shipment. It may be just coincidental that there is a flurry of outliers who are in a New York state of mind and want a part of it.

“We’re not taking anything from New York — the diner needed saving,” said Cheryl Pierce, who with her husband, Vince, bought the Moondance in 2007 for $7,500. They spent $40,000 to move it 2,125 miles to La Barge in western Wyoming, where it opened on Jan. 12 after a delay to replace a roof collapsed by snow.

It is hardly a new phenomenon, of course. New York has been exporting its bounties, willingly and unwillingly, since the days of Peter Stuyvesant and marauding redcoats.

More recently, according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, cast-iron eagles from the old Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Terminal have turned up at suburban estates, a kiosk from the 1939 World’s Fair is now a restaurant in New Jersey, parts of an 18th-century ship found at 175 Water Street were sent to the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., and old subway cars are swimming with the fishes as artificial reefs off the Delaware coast.

Many years ago, when New York saw no more need for all of its elevated lines, it sold the iron for scrap to the Japanese, who were particularly happy to receive it, said Lloyd Ultan, the Bronx County historian. “Put it this way,” he said, “we got it back in the form of artillery shells and kamikazes.”

Read the complete article…………


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