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Are Zombie Neighborhood Landmarks Good or Evil?

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Photo by Will Femia.

Though Prince Street's Vesuvio Bakery, a Soho landmark for over 80 years, closed in the summer of 2008, the above photo of an open and very much active Vesuvio was shot last week. Miracle? Black magic? Tear in the space/time continuum? None of the above! City Bakery's Maury Rubin took over the storefront for a new location of his eco-friendly bake shop Birdbath, and in memory of the previous tenant, left much of Vesuvio intact. Rubin obviously meant it as a loving tribute?he even e-mailed Lost City to ask that Vesuvio be removed from a list of "Recently Lost Landmarks"?but what to make of the undead Vesuvio? One Eater reader already voiced concerns that the situation feels a bit icky, and now Vanishing New York's Jeremiah, the poet laureate of shuttered neighborhood standbys, is chiming in on the "Vesuvio conundrum."

After comparing Birdbath to other fancy new operations moving into significant spaces and recycling some of the signature looks (John Varvatos's CBGB store, Keith McNally's Minetta Tavern, the High Line), Jeremiah confesses his confusion over how to react:

In the end, New York is becoming its own, self-referential museum, a simulacrum complete with wall text to explain where we are--what was here, what remains, what's been altered and revised. We recognize it, while at the same time, it is unfamiliar.

We know that this fate is far better than a bank or a Starbucks. And yet, denied the unadulterated righteous anger that comes when a bank or a Starbucks completely erases our favorite places, in the presence of these preservations and simulations, we're not quite sure what to feel.

We're a bit on the fence ourselves, but a briefcase filled with bear claws delivered to Curbed HQ may settle this controversy, hint hint.
· Birdbath Vesuvio [Vanishing New York]
· The Vesuvio Conundrum [Eater]

160 Prince Street, New York, NY