Friday, March 11, 2011

Is 35 Cooper Square really worth saving?

The fight to save 35 Cooper Square continues. As we noted the other day, both Community Board 2 and 3 will discuss stopping demolition of 35 Cooper Square and preserving other Federal houses on the Bowery. Both boards will also discuss nomination of the Bowery to the State and National Register of Historic District. (CB3 passed a resolution on it last night. BoweryBoogie has more here.)

Meanwhile, in an opinion piece published yesterday afternoon, a writer for the Local East Village (the NYU-Times collaboration) wonders why we're fighting it. He admits that he is 22 years old and a resident here for only eight months — and "more privy to this neighborhood’s prolific bar scene than its historic past."

So, from his perspective:

The days of Diane di Prima living upstairs have long since passed. Over time, 35 Cooper Square evolved, from a residential haven for poets and writers, to – like it or not – a cheap watering hole. Over time, 35 Cooper Square’s become little more than an eyesore next to its surroundings. And somewhere over that time, 35 Cooper Square lost its history.

And, moving forward:

The East Village skyline will shift, and shift again. It always has. Who’s to say this is a bad thing, or that tomorrow’s residents won’t include the next di Prima, Hendrix, or Madonna? As East Villagers, it’s our duty to remember the past. But when we reflexively cling to our past, when we use 35 Cooper Square as a scapegoat for fear and uncertainty of an unseen future, we become something altogether different.

You can read the whole post here.


Anonymous said...

What's the problem? I know that when *I* want to know if a neighborhood's old landmarks should be preserved or not, I go directly to 22-year-old temporary residents who love to drink. They go to very expensive private schools, so they're clearly the experts. The rest of you are a bunch of fogies clinging to the past! I've never ever heard of Jimmy Hendricks.

Uncle Waltie said...

I, too, thought I had it all figured out when I was 22. Ha-ha!

Bowery Boogie said...

that NYU piece was really an embarrassment to the school and the NY Times.

Little Earthquake said...

You (other commenters) are attacking the arguer and not the argument. He's questioning your reasons, and in turn you're questioning his age when he already admits he doesn't know everything.

He makes one good point - people should have fought to preserve 35 Cooper Square long ago.

I think it's in the eye of the beholder whether it's an "eyesore" though. To me it's a handsome building, and its storied past should justify its preservation.

EVGayBear said...

Clueless. Arrogant. Entitled.

The opinion column highlighted a few of the worst qualities that East Village residents associate with NYU students.

Soon, we shall eat them.

Anonymous said...

Little Earthquake, I am Anon 7:23, and what I am actually questioning is his platform. I am fine with 22-year-olds speaking authoratively on their own personal experiences, or doing excellent reportage -- they can and should. But an opinion piece like this really belongs on a intracollege or personal blog. It should not be given the New York Times imprimatur. (Not that I don't find the Times to be ridiculous itself in many ways, but that's a rant for another day.)

Look, when I was 21, I wrote an eloquent yet scathing and editorial for my college paper stating that solicitations from the university for young alumni donations immediately upon graduation were nothing but greed!!! This sent the community elders into a tizzy of angry "To the Editor" letters for weeks. Did I deserve that? Eh, some of it, probably. Did my unnuanced, if very well-expressed opinions deserve legitimacy by being published by the biggest newspaper in America? Hell no.

I believe the children are our future, but it doesn't follow that they always know what they are talking about.

Anonymous said...

Little Earthquakes (me again), I'm sorry, that was a really longwinded way of saying: If an author states "I don’t know much about this neighborhood," as Howard did, then he should not be writing for the NYT about said neighborhood. It's the Times' fault, not Howard's, really (although I would personally be too embarrassed to write about a neighborhood I admittedly knew nothing about, which is also why people start throwing around words like "entitled" and "clueless").

OK, rantypants time over :)

Uncle Waltie said...

From the post:
"And although I’m but 22 years old, only lived in the East Village for some eight months, and am more privy to this neighborhood’s prolific bar scene than its historic past, I can’t help but thinking that maybe, just maybe, this sudden preservationist uproar is a bit, well, contrived.
Because as I said, I don’t know much about this neighborhood."

How does one engage in meaningful discourse with someone who preemptively disqualifies her/himself from the issue and its history?

Anonymous said...

He's candid and admits he's young and ignorant. So why attack him? He's 22 and does make a FEW good points. That being said - it's sad to see this bldg go.

Anonymous said...

I believe some of you were that 22yr old coming to EV a few decades ago. People in the EV have become so judgmental when this neighbordhood is about those that do not judge. We are not true EV'ers - the woman who lives across the hall from me in her late 70s who moved here from Poland. SHE is the real EV'er - WE took over HER neighborhood.

Anonymous said...


blue glass said...

i have lived here for almost 50 years. that doesn't make my opinion any more important, but it does give me a history in the neighborhood.
when i moved here i shopped in stores my grandmother had shopped in, many owners knew me from when i was young. there was a feeling of community (and trust).
over the past, say 15 years, there has been a rapid destruction of this neighborhood. businesses that have been here for generations are gone, forced out by speculative landlords. tenants have been evicted because landlords desire the new high rents they can collect.
luxury buildings with tenants that only shop the exclusive shops have replaced the old-time tenants. take a look at the essex street market, so few old-timers remain.
the city market that was on first avenue and 10th street has been replaced by the theater for the new city with a market-rate co-op above it. i don't consider that progress. very few of the businesses from that market survived after being forced to move.
greed has taken over the nation.
our neighborhood is now full of the rich and the temporary student along with the bars, clubs and fancy stores that cater to them.
it would have been nice if some of the old-timers had been allowed to stay.

Goggla said...

This piece would have been more creditable if the writer had bothered to research the building's history beyond the last couple of years or maybe even asked the opinions of a few residents (pro and con). By introducing himself as ignorant and unqualified to be writing this in the first place, it not only turns me off to reading any further, but I'm inclined not to take seriously anything produced by NYU or the NYT.

Is this the type of student NYU is graduating? One who apparently hasn't bothered to do any research on a subject beyond talking to his roommate? God help us all.

Marty Wombacher said...

Everybody's entitled to his or her opinion, but that closing sentence is unresolved and a little sad. He states that: "But when we reflexively cling to our past, when we use 35 Cooper Square as a scapegoat for fear and uncertainty of an unseen future, we become something altogether different."

What do we become? Those who forget the past have a doomed future. I said a lot of stupid things when I was 22 as well. But I was out of my gourd on acid most of the time back then. What's this guy's excuse?

Bob Arihood said...

Its all so easy when you're an empty-headed fool

nygrump said...

"we use 35 Cooper Square as a scapegoat for fear and uncertainty"

This is a psyops, he's dismissing anger and twisting it into fear. What a booze addled moron. Thats the problem with drunks, they think they're normal with all their other drinking partners but their brains are pickled.

esquared said...

i would like to have a 22 y.o. to move in his hometown, be a resident there for a few months and privy to whatever that town has to offer, and then write an article on how a building or a landmark, which he knows nothing of its history and has become an eyesore to the young rich transplants, thus is not worth saving. see how he feels about that.

This is one of the most progressive neighborhoods... progressive to whom? only for the rich and the affluent, that is.

yes, the "east village skyline will shift, and shift again, but will he be here when that happens. he'll probably just move on to another place, once he graduates, where he can be more privy to whatever it is that is the next it thing to consume. the "artists, musicians, minorities, gays, freedom fighters, beatniks, hippies" created a community and a "rich history" here, which opened doors to everyone. what kind of community will the wealthy and the likes of him be creating? will there even be a community, since they are only here for a few short periods of time and just pack-up and move once they can find another "progressive" neighborhood where they will destroy the homes, displace its long-time residents, and homogenize the neighborhood.

i still don't know how that site is considered "local" if the writer himself admits that he's only been here for eight months. doesn't nyu already has an nyu local blog? still don't know what the point of this other site; just to offend more, just like the way the greedy and vulgar gentrifier offends.

Lisa said...

Hmm, let's see. Pete Hamill, who knows a thing or two about New York, wants #35 saved. This brash young B'hoy from Nowheresille does not. There, in a nutshell, is the argument and the answer.

According to this brat's way of thinking, the Coliseum should be torn down because the ancient Romans are no longer there to utilize it.

And he would not know an eyesore if it bit him on his flat Midwestern ass.

Bowery Boy said...

ok, i've added my $.02 over at the young man's Local blog post; and, although I have mixed feelings about admitting that I learned the important value of community, heritage and legacy from my theater training at nyu in the early '80s, I did want to address one thing: "people should have fought to preserve 35 Cooper Square long ago."

Anyone who thinks that no one cared to fight for the building until now, doesn't know what they are talking about. One of the first RFE's that BAN ever submitted to the LPC (you do the acronyms) was to landmark 35 Cooper.

Unfortunately, the LPC did not calendar it, because of the facing (which itself is older than some landmarked buildings). Personally, I think that city govt. made up its mind about what Bowery (Cooper to Houston) should look like back during the Koch slum clearance days. Kate Millet was but a decade-long thorn, and now those days have arrived.

So, after the LPC's rejection there was little other recourse, but 35 Cooper benefited from a benevolent owner. The owner did finally sell last year, and dominos have fallen since then.

I don't blame someone for not knowing, but you shouldn't say something that's just not true. BAN has discussed the status of 35 Cooper at many, many meetings, keeping a watchful eye. They included it in their National Register proposal and every other initiative that might have helped bring attention to its historic and indespensible value. I hope that this clears up some not knowing.

Bryan said...

Ooh! Don't call him a B'hoy! Poor Mose would be spinning in his grave. Call him a greenhorn instead!

Lisa said...

@Bryan - Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Anonymous said...

Who’s to say this is a bad thing, or that tomorrow’s residents won’t include the next di Prima, Hendrix, or Madonna?

I guess the answer is: I am.

There is no way in hell that it will happen because those folks could never find an affordable place to live in this gentrifier's vision of the future.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, 4:11. We already have the new Madonna, and the only reason she got her start in NYC is because she was a rich girl who lived with her parents on the UWS.

(Also, what kind of twirp wishes for a new Madonna anyway? And I love Hendrix but there are hundreds of famous artists more closely associated with the EV than Jimi!)

Anonymous said...

Nice ad hominem remarks instead of addressing the real issue.

You want the building preserved, buy it from the owners and preserve it yourself. Stop trying to tell other people how they can reasonably use their property.

Marty Wombacher said...

@Anonymous 5:20 PM: I thought the same thing regarding the Hendrix remark. The Fugs would've been a better EV example, but from the tone of his article, he's probably never heard of them.

Anonymous said...

And they call that The Local East Village blog. Maybe the East Village in Des Moines, IA or Austin, TX.

K Webster said...

When this owner builds all his permits better be in order and in compliance. The neighbors will be watching. And yes we are cranky, and yes, we hold grudges and, obviously, yes, have long memories. Because, we like, keep track of history.

It’s always interesting to hear from the ivory tower of NYU. Good to know the students are being trained in corporate journalism-speak to pontificate on low-income communities that no one bothers to learn anything about.

Then again, maybe it's good practice to become a real life New York Times reporter. I recall a terrific front-page story about weapons of mass destruction by Judith Miller….

--------m said...

I earlier left my brief comment on the nyu/ny times blog article.
however I would like to add that the spirited and (mostly) well informed dialogue that has erupted from this short-sighted, self-absorbed, and naive nyu student's writing makes me proud of my community. my fellow group members at the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors and I have spent many years working to keep the vital history of this Bowery neighborhood alive. now we see that we are not alone. please contact BAN and let us know that we can count on you before the next impasse arises.
the battle for 35 cooper is not yet over. the next battle is just around the corner.

Anonymous said...

So many unpleasant and irrelevant ad hominem attacks on the original author, simply for raising a completely reasonable question. What makes a building, or this building in particular, worthy of preservation?

I am a native New Yorker, and still mourn the loss of grand and beautiful buildings like the original Penn Station and the old bank building on the site of the current Bowery Hotel. However, I fail to see the great value of the 35 Cooper Square building. I am willing to be shown the error of my ways, but name calling and insults are hardly the way the convince. Besides, such behavior is just rude.

esquared said...

That's because the article written is rude, insulting and a passive aggressive askance ad hominem to the residents of the East Village. Feel free to have a drink on one of the prolific bars that Bryan is privy with, on him.

K Webster said...

Dear Anonymous:

"So many unpleasant ... attacks ... simply for raising a completely reasonable question. ... such behavior is just rude."

No, it actually wasn't a "reasonable" question. It had an overt, and pretty arrogant, editorial slant.

Shall we talk manners? I find it a tad disrespectful to an entire neighborhood to weigh in on an issue you've done zero research on. One that residents are passionate about and have clearly worked hard to inform themselves about. In the New York Times no less, with the power of NYU behind you.

I’m not a fan of name-calling but when you insult a neighborhood you’ve barely lived in and know nothing about, I’m not sure you have the moral high ground to demand to be treated politely.

People are fighting for their neighborhood, their homes, and their livelihoods and for future generations who might want to see this gem that historians think is worth preserving.

This isn't a polite little parlor game for us.

1981f762-5033-11e0-8f1e-000bcdca4d7a said...

that is great news! NYU has lowered their admission standards!, my kid might not have to go to school in Arizona after all

Anonymous said...

listen up kid, next time you stumble home from phoebies with your buzz on ask your roommate to hide your PC. like a buddy system type thing.dont blog drunk.
that poorly written and conceived mental fart you wrote is ALWAYS going to be a google away. always. as in forever. i assume you aspire to be a journalist in new york city someday? ouch.. thats going to be your "i just dabbled in witchcraft a little in college" moment for the rest of your life. but hey on positive note, it looks like legitimate news papers are headed for extinction anyway so you may find a little corner of the blogosphere where people care what you say!

Lisa said...

This building's weighty cultural significance has been undisputed for the last six months at least; a journalist does his homework, Mr. Howard--

> a great man's ne'er-do-well nephew lived there.

> an "influential" mimeographed journal was published there by a long-forgotten Beat poetess.

> Billy Name once visited-- hey, for YOUR information, Sonny, he held the historically-significant position of gofer at Andy Warhol's Factory!

(Psst, Mr. Howard: the thing you fail to understand --being a mere 22 years old-- is that the what's being mourned by the community is not the loss of "architectural history" so much as their personal history-- ie youth as they remember it. But, they have to pretend that their motives lofty-- they're preserving "cultural history", get it?)

Lisa said...

For the record, the above Lisa is not me, the Lisa who wrote the letter to the LPC. This is going to get confusing unless this chick starts using a last name or initial to differentiate us.