Photo by Brianne Sperber on Wikimedia
One of New York City’s largest and most beloved independent bookstores is asking for help. Citing a decline in foot traffic, a lack of tourists, and zero in-store events because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Strand Bookstore’s revenue has dropped nearly 70 percent compared to last year, owner Nancy Bass Wyden said on Friday. According to Bass Wyden, the business, one of the last bookstores of Union Square’s former “Book Row,” is not currently sustainable.
Non-profit Village Preservation has launched a new online platform called Virtual Village, which is part of their larger efforts seeking landmarks protections for the “South of Union Square” area, where Greenwich Village meets the East Village. The interactive online tool offers 36 free, guided walking tours of the neighborhood, ranging from architectural topics like the Cast Iron Tour to cultural topics like the German History Tour to social topics like the Women’s History and LGBTQ Tours.
A view of Fish’s Eddy’s storefront at 889 Broadway in June 2019. Map data © 2020 Google
“We’re like a fish gasping for air — literally,” said Julie Gaines, the owner of Fishs Eddy, to the New York Post. The much-loved Union Square store has been in business since 1986, selling mix-and-match, reasonably priced dinnerware that includes NYC-themed items and quirky finds like Obama shot glasses and parking ticket plates. Since the pandemic hit, however, they’ve only been doing 30 percent of their usual business, much of which is based on tourists, which is making it harder and harder to afford their high rent.
, Mon, September 21, 2020
Photo by Zack Winestine
The massive electronic clock in Union Square that has puzzled New Yorkers for over two decades has been repurposed as a count down to climate disaster. Created by Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd, the “Climate Clock” displays the years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds the world has left to make significant changes before the effects of global warming become permanent. The new installation comes as Climate Week NYC kicks off this week, alongside the United Nations General Assembly.
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Rendering of Zero Irving courtesy of RAL Development Services
Pioneering food hall operator Urbanspace is opening its latest outpost at Union Square reports the NY Post. They’ve leased 10,000 square feet at Zero Irving, the contested tech hub on 14th Street that will serve as office space, a technology training center and incubator, co-working spaces, and an event space when it opens in the first half of 2021.
Map data © 2020 Google
Don’t get too excited yet–it’s not opening until at least 2023, when the lease expires for the space’s current tenant, the Food Emporium grocery store. The Post reports that Target signed a lease for the 32,579-square-foot space at the base of 10 Union Square East. Target currently has seven stores in Manhattan, with two more set to open in Times Square, Columbus Circle, and Washinton Heights. One of their stores is just a few avenues east on 14th Street at Avenue A.
Photo by 6sqft
The prominent Union Square storefront on 16th Street and Union Square West that was home to sceney restaurant Coffee Shop for 28 years has changed quite a bit since the former diner closed its doors last October. Reports that yet another Chase branch and an outpost of vegan chain By CHLOE. would open in its place were confirmed a few months ago, and now the transformation is complete. A new location for Joe Coffee is also open in the building, and, interestingly, is part of a partnership with Chase, according to the Wall Street Journal. With an entrance on 16th Street, By CHLOE.’s colorful storefront stands where the former diner’s back dining room used to be, while the Union Square side has lost its iconic neon sign for ubiquitous Chase branding.
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Renderings courtesy of RAL Development Services
The vision for a contested tech hub currently underway at 124 East 14th Street—the site of the former P.C. Richard & Son building—is coming into sharper focus. RAL Development Services released a new batch of renderings and rebranded the project with a new name, Zero Irving, presumably a nod to neighboring Irving Place. The 21-story building will include office space, a technology training center and incubator, co-working spaces, an event space, and a street-level food hall. The project broke ground over the summer and is slated for completion toward the end of 2020.
Map data © 2019 Google
As it approaches its 29th anniversary, Union Square-area favorite City Bakery may soon close its doors for good. The bakery and cafe opened in 1990 at 22 West 17th Street (it moved to its current 3 West 18th Street location in 2001) and has become well known over the years for its pretzel croissants, chocolate chip cookies, and decadent hot chocolate that comes with the option to add a massive, homemade marshmallow for $2, as well as the hot chocolate festival it hosted every February. However, as the Post first spotted, a two-part Instagram post last week explains that the bakery is in some serious financial trouble. “We have too much debt, debt which is like quicksand,” they wrote.
Photo by Beyond My Ken / Wiki Commons
The area south of Union Square, on the border between Greenwich Village and the East Village, is changing. The approval of the new 14th Street Tech Hub south of Union Square combined with an explosion of tech-related development in the area has resulted in the demolition of mid-19th-century hotels and Beaux-Arts style tenements, with new office towers like 809 Broadway taking their place.
Aside from being rich in 19th- and early-20th-century architecture, this area is overflowing with history connected to many of the great American artists, writers, musicians, publishers, activists, innovators and artisans of the last century and a half. As part of Village Preservation’s work to document and bring to light some of that often forgotten history, we wrote this piece last year exploring the connections to Mark Twain and Walt Whitman, Alexander Graham Bell and Leroi Jones (among many others). Now, we’ve uncovered even more history-making people and events connected to this area and its buildings, from Hammacher Schlemmer (NYC’s first hardware store) to a slew of influential publishing houses (including that which published the first U.S. edition of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”) to the Women’s Suffrage League headquarters.