Volume 77 / Number 30 - Dec. 27 - Jan.2, 2007
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Saving what we still can

To The Editor:
Re “Push to make Pyramid Club city’s first ‘drag landmark’” (news article, Dec. 12):

It is great news that the Landmarks Preservation Commission is at last considering granting landmark status to a few properties in the East Village. While the architecture of the West Village is largely protected by contiguous historic districts, preservation advocates on the other side of Fifth Ave. have not been as effective. Familiar low-rise streetscapes — and ethnically and economically diverse faces — are rapidly disappearing, replaced by tall, shiny, new dormitories, hotels and luxury condos, especially on the Bowery and Third Ave.

I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, long enough to see the prostitutes and skinheads, drag queens and addicts give way to hedge-fund managers, baby carriages and branch banks (sigh). The Pyramid Club certainly should be remembered as the democratic vessel where all those disparate, alienated creative elements were brought together. This only-possible-in-New-York mix produced a look and sound that defined the 1980s internationally.

The building at 101 Avenue A is likely eligible for listing just because of that recent cultural history. But its past is richer and deeper still, and just as dependent on the indomitable population of the East Village. Like Webster Hall (also under L.P.C. consideration) it was a focus of immigrant life — the site of balls and weddings, political meetings and labor rallies. For the last quarter of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, under a succession of names, this hall was critical to the education, recreation and organization of a thriving German community.

I love the neighborhood and am saddened by the recent loss of its unique institutions (2nd Ave. Deli, CBGB). Homogenization of the East Village may not be inevitable, but surely there is not much time to prevent it.

Leo J. Blackman


Sad end of the Astor B & N

To The Editor:
I heard recently that Barnes & Noble on Astor Pl. will close at year’s end. They’ve received an exorbitant rent rise. This location will be replaced by a gym.

I’ve heard many writers speak there this past year, especially young, progressive and international authors. With the loss of this venue will come the loss of these voices — particularly missed when, this coming election year, the full spectrum of new and alternative voices needs to be heard.

I regret the many economic decisions that are creating this closing, which will be a loss to the intelligentsia, the students and the residents of the area. The upgrade of a neighborhood to “hot” leaves the rest of us in a cultural vacuum. Who will pick up the slack? St. Mark’s Bookshop or Strand Bookstore nearby, perhaps, though neither has quite the clout of a B & N. With the added loss in recent years of affordable continuing-education courses at The Cooper Union — one financial course excepted — who on Astor Pl. will be stepping up to the cultural plate? Oh, Walgreens, of course.
 
Marilyn Moorcroft


The best bank for Billy

To The Editor:
Re “What’s not in your wallet?” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Dec. 12):

Please tell Reverend Billy and his crusading Church of Stop Shopping that they should do their money business with the great Amalgamated Bank of New York, America’s labor bank. My family has used them for decades and have been thoroughly satisfied — no hidden charges, free checking, great personal service.

Drop the top banks! Down with Starbucks! Up with people for change.

Eric Wallach


City’s top dog done wrong

To The Editor:
Michael Bloomberg made his mark. He destroyed Washington Square Park.

Patricia McKee
McKee is manager, Washington Square Park Dog Run


E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel.


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