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Mapping 20 New York Institutions That Rent Hikes Shuttered

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In New York City, more than anywhere else, the cliche holds true: the only constant is change. Some businesses aren't destined for long-term success. Others, however, could stay with us for a long time, if only they were given a fair shot. That's the sentiment driving the new #SaveNYC movement, which officially kicked off in March thanks to the perseverance of Jeremiah Moss. Yes, he of the nostalgia-filled, openly cranky blog that chronicles the travails and closings of long-time institutions: Jeremiah's Vanishing New York. The group's goal is to "protect and preserve the diversity and uniqueness of the urban fabric in New York City" by passing what advocates call the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would enpower small businesses to negotiate fair lease renewals with their landlords—taking some of the power out of property owners' hands and thereby stemming the tide of mass evictions and catastrophic rent hikes. Moss started the #SaveNYC Facebook page in December, and now its 4,273 members regularly discuss how to raise awareness about institutions that have closed because of outsized rents.

Thanks to Jeremiah (not his real name), below please find 20 noteworthy, and often beloved, businesses that have closed in the past year or so—or are about to close. There are no doubt more, especially because this list hones in on Manhattan. Please leave any suggestions in the comments below.


—Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.
· #SaveNYC [Official]
· Jeremiah's Vanishing New York [Official]
· How We Lost 6,826 Years Of NYC History In Bloomberg's Era [Curbed]
· Count Up the Dozens of NYC Institutions Lost to Rent Hikes [Curbed]

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1. Pearl Paint

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308 Canal Street
New York, NY 10013

After opening on Church Street in 1933, Pearl Paint moved to Canal Street in 1960. Pearl started out just selling paint, but eventually added lots of other art supplies. Then the building, iconic for its red and white color scheme matching the Pearl Paint logo, was put up for sale and the store closed on April 17, 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

2. Sam Flax

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900 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10022
(212) 813-6666

Pearl Paint wasn’t the only art supply shop to bite the dust in 2014. Sam Flax had been in business for 95 years, but when the rent was expected to double, it could go on no longer. The Sam Flax website says a rebirth is in the works. One can only hope. [Image: YellowBot]

3. Subway Inn

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143 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022

It was a dive bar. Nobody denied that. It opened in 1937 and stayed open until the building refused to renew its lease in 2014. Despite pleas and a petition from the public, the bar was evicted. (In its place, naturally, a condo tower will rise.) It reopened in March of 2015 at 1140 Second Avenue, complete with its iconic neon sign. [Image: Google Maps]

4. Rizzoli Bookstore

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31 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Art book purveyor Rizzoli has a history of being forced to vacate its premises. It moved to its 57th Street location in 1985, but that was only after being forced from its nearby home of 21 years. Then, in 2014, it was ousted from 57th Street despite a campaign to save it. In its place, a "seven-star" hotel is planned. Rizzoli is set to reopen at 1133 Broadway in NoMad this June. [Image: Google Maps]

5. Barnes & Noble Former Flagship

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105 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10003

People used to hate the big bookstores for pushing out the little ones. Now Borders went bankrupt, and even the number of Barnes & Nobles is dwindling. That included the first college store, which opened on Fifth Avenue in 1932 and used to be the company’s flagship store. It closed in January 2014. The much larger Barnes & Noble on 17th Street and Union Square remains, though it also hosts events and stocks goods besides books. [Image: Google Maps]

6. Shakespeare & Co.

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716 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

We couldn’t put it more succinctly than Jimmy McMillan. The rent was too damn high. The local bookstore chain was founded in 1981 and lost its Upper West Side location in 1996. Next to fall was its its Greenwich Village location in September 2014, replaced by a Foot Locker. The Gramercy and Brooklyn locations are also gone. All that remains is the Upper East Side location. [Photo: Google Maps]

7. Complete Traveller Bookstore

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199 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10016

After 36 years of serving those with wanderlust, the Complete Traveller Antiquarian Bookstore closed on December 31, 2014. Manager Mike Durell said their lease was up and the landlord wanted to raise the already “exorbitant” rent. [Image: JVNY]

8. Yaffa Café

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97 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10009

A 24-hour East Village staple for 32 years, Yaffa met its end in late 2014. First it was closed by the Department of Health following a reported nine-hour-long inspection. Then it was told by the city the garden area wasn’t up to code in terms of egress. It hoped to reopen after renovation, but was unable to and announced it would be shuttering for good on October 1. All recipes were “moved” to the nearby Simone Martini Bar.

9. Simone Martini Bar & Cafe

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134 1st Ave
New York, NY 10009
(212) 982-6665

Oh, yeah, Simone didn’t make it either. On November 30, after 15 years of serving the East Village, it closed its doors for good. [Image: Google Maps]

10. Lucky Cheng's

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240 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

The drag queen cabaret originally opened in the East Village in 1993. It moved to Midtown in 2012, but that location would not last long. Employees said the rent went up and business went down. It closed at the end of June 2014. A pop-up version is now operating Fridays and Saturdays at 93 Ludlow Street. [Image: Google Maps]

11. Oyster Bar

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842 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019

Opened in 1959, it was a Midtown staple and, yes, it served oysters. It was run by the same family for the entirety of its existence. The neon lights reading “Sea Food” and “Oyster Bar” were clear signposts for the neighborhood, and the interior boasted sea shells on the ceiling and a maritime mural on the wall. Then the rent went up. A lot. In the space of four years, it reportedly jumped from $12,000 to $30,000. It closed on January 26, 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

12. Ess-a-Bagel

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359 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Who doesn’t love a good schmear? The bagel shop’s original location opened in 1976. Then owner David Wilpon said his shop was pushed out by the landlord. The landlord disputed that claim. Still, it closed on March 22, 2015. A location still exists on Third Avenue. [Image: Google Maps]

13. Avignone Chemists

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281 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10014
(212) 242-3033

It was supposedly the oldest pharmacy in America. When it opened it was called the Stock Pharmacy and was at 59 MacDougal Street. Francis Avignone purchased it in 1898, renamed it, and, in 1929, moved it over to Sixth Avenue, where it was until this year. Abe Lerner, who owned the pharmacy for the past 30 years, said the building’s new owner wanted to triple the rent. They’re due to clear out by April 30. [Image: Google Maps]

14. Gray's Papaya

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402 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

After 28 years, the iconic fruit juice and hot dog shop (because, for New Yorkers, the two go together) was forced out by a rent hike. Reportedly, the landlord wanted to raise the monthly payment from $30,000 to $50,000. It closed on January 7, 2014, leaving only the Upper West Side outpost. [Image: Google Maps]

15. Pasticceria Bruno Bakery

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506 Laguardia Pl
New York, NY 10012

The bakery business itself is over a century old, but the Pasticceria Bruno Bakery & Restaurant in Greenwich Village opened in 1973. They said that, since Sept. 11, it had been a financial struggle to stay there and that it just couldn’t work anymore. It closed on November 30. Locations on Staten Island remain open, though. [Image: Google Maps]

16. Pearl River Mart

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477 Broadway
New York, NY 10013
(212) 431-4770

The retailer has been moving around since it opened on Elizabeth Street in 1971 and sells home goods, party favors, and other knickknacks imported from China. For the past 12 years, it’s been on Broadway. But this will be its last. Rent, which was $100,000 a month, was set to increase five fold when the lease is up in December. [Image: Google Maps]

17. Camouflage Clothing

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139 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 691-1750

The men’s clothing and leather goods shop opened in a very un-gentrified Chelsea in 1976. Nearly 20 years ago, the store’s co-founder died of AIDS, but it kept going. Then the rent more than tripled from $7,000 a month to $24,000 a month, and the store couldn’t afford it. It was ordered out by January 30, 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

18. Archangel Antiques

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334 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10003

That Sherry reported that after 21 years in the East Village, the shop full of oddities and vintage clothing could not keep up with the rent or competition. The owners also blamed the student population, which they said didn't have a lot of money or taste. It closed in June 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

19. Rodeo Bar

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375 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10016

A piece of honky tonk in New York City. “Here, beneath the sparkling skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan, lay a country oasis that served sizzling Tex-Mex food, high-caliber margaritas and live music with plenty of twang,” wrote the New York Times. There was live music there for 27 years, but rent and insurance payments had quintupled since 1996. It closed on July 27, 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

20. Kim's Video and Music

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124 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009

A video store? Yes, kids, we used to go to real stores to buy (and rent) videos in physical form. Kim’s, which opened on Avenue A in 1987, had been described as a “mini empire” and had half a dozen locations. The First Avenue location was the last one left, and (of course) a rent hike forced them out in the summer of 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

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1. Pearl Paint

308 Canal Street, New York, NY 10013

After opening on Church Street in 1933, Pearl Paint moved to Canal Street in 1960. Pearl started out just selling paint, but eventually added lots of other art supplies. Then the building, iconic for its red and white color scheme matching the Pearl Paint logo, was put up for sale and the store closed on April 17, 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

308 Canal Street
New York, NY 10013

2. Sam Flax

900 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022

Pearl Paint wasn’t the only art supply shop to bite the dust in 2014. Sam Flax had been in business for 95 years, but when the rent was expected to double, it could go on no longer. The Sam Flax website says a rebirth is in the works. One can only hope. [Image: YellowBot]

900 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10022

3. Subway Inn

143 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022

It was a dive bar. Nobody denied that. It opened in 1937 and stayed open until the building refused to renew its lease in 2014. Despite pleas and a petition from the public, the bar was evicted. (In its place, naturally, a condo tower will rise.) It reopened in March of 2015 at 1140 Second Avenue, complete with its iconic neon sign. [Image: Google Maps]

143 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022

4. Rizzoli Bookstore

31 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019

Art book purveyor Rizzoli has a history of being forced to vacate its premises. It moved to its 57th Street location in 1985, but that was only after being forced from its nearby home of 21 years. Then, in 2014, it was ousted from 57th Street despite a campaign to save it. In its place, a "seven-star" hotel is planned. Rizzoli is set to reopen at 1133 Broadway in NoMad this June. [Image: Google Maps]

31 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

5. Barnes & Noble Former Flagship

105 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10003

People used to hate the big bookstores for pushing out the little ones. Now Borders went bankrupt, and even the number of Barnes & Nobles is dwindling. That included the first college store, which opened on Fifth Avenue in 1932 and used to be the company’s flagship store. It closed in January 2014. The much larger Barnes & Noble on 17th Street and Union Square remains, though it also hosts events and stocks goods besides books. [Image: Google Maps]

105 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10003

6. Shakespeare & Co.

716 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

We couldn’t put it more succinctly than Jimmy McMillan. The rent was too damn high. The local bookstore chain was founded in 1981 and lost its Upper West Side location in 1996. Next to fall was its its Greenwich Village location in September 2014, replaced by a Foot Locker. The Gramercy and Brooklyn locations are also gone. All that remains is the Upper East Side location. [Photo: Google Maps]

716 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

7. Complete Traveller Bookstore

199 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016

After 36 years of serving those with wanderlust, the Complete Traveller Antiquarian Bookstore closed on December 31, 2014. Manager Mike Durell said their lease was up and the landlord wanted to raise the already “exorbitant” rent. [Image: JVNY]

199 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10016

8. Yaffa Café

97 Saint Marks Place, New York, NY 10009

A 24-hour East Village staple for 32 years, Yaffa met its end in late 2014. First it was closed by the Department of Health following a reported nine-hour-long inspection. Then it was told by the city the garden area wasn’t up to code in terms of egress. It hoped to reopen after renovation, but was unable to and announced it would be shuttering for good on October 1. All recipes were “moved” to the nearby Simone Martini Bar.

97 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10009

9. Simone Martini Bar & Cafe

134 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

Oh, yeah, Simone didn’t make it either. On November 30, after 15 years of serving the East Village, it closed its doors for good. [Image: Google Maps]

134 1st Ave
New York, NY 10009

10. Lucky Cheng's

240 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019

The drag queen cabaret originally opened in the East Village in 1993. It moved to Midtown in 2012, but that location would not last long. Employees said the rent went up and business went down. It closed at the end of June 2014. A pop-up version is now operating Fridays and Saturdays at 93 Ludlow Street. [Image: Google Maps]

240 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

11. Oyster Bar

842 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10019

Opened in 1959, it was a Midtown staple and, yes, it served oysters. It was run by the same family for the entirety of its existence. The neon lights reading “Sea Food” and “Oyster Bar” were clear signposts for the neighborhood, and the interior boasted sea shells on the ceiling and a maritime mural on the wall. Then the rent went up. A lot. In the space of four years, it reportedly jumped from $12,000 to $30,000. It closed on January 26, 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

842 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019

12. Ess-a-Bagel

359 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10010

Who doesn’t love a good schmear? The bagel shop’s original location opened in 1976. Then owner David Wilpon said his shop was pushed out by the landlord. The landlord disputed that claim. Still, it closed on March 22, 2015. A location still exists on Third Avenue. [Image: Google Maps]

359 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10010

13. Avignone Chemists

281 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10014

It was supposedly the oldest pharmacy in America. When it opened it was called the Stock Pharmacy and was at 59 MacDougal Street. Francis Avignone purchased it in 1898, renamed it, and, in 1929, moved it over to Sixth Avenue, where it was until this year. Abe Lerner, who owned the pharmacy for the past 30 years, said the building’s new owner wanted to triple the rent. They’re due to clear out by April 30. [Image: Google Maps]

281 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10014

14. Gray's Papaya

402 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

After 28 years, the iconic fruit juice and hot dog shop (because, for New Yorkers, the two go together) was forced out by a rent hike. Reportedly, the landlord wanted to raise the monthly payment from $30,000 to $50,000. It closed on January 7, 2014, leaving only the Upper West Side outpost. [Image: Google Maps]

402 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

15. Pasticceria Bruno Bakery

506 Laguardia Pl, New York, NY 10012

The bakery business itself is over a century old, but the Pasticceria Bruno Bakery & Restaurant in Greenwich Village opened in 1973. They said that, since Sept. 11, it had been a financial struggle to stay there and that it just couldn’t work anymore. It closed on November 30. Locations on Staten Island remain open, though. [Image: Google Maps]

506 Laguardia Pl
New York, NY 10012

16. Pearl River Mart

477 Broadway, New York, NY 10013

The retailer has been moving around since it opened on Elizabeth Street in 1971 and sells home goods, party favors, and other knickknacks imported from China. For the past 12 years, it’s been on Broadway. But this will be its last. Rent, which was $100,000 a month, was set to increase five fold when the lease is up in December. [Image: Google Maps]

477 Broadway
New York, NY 10013

17. Camouflage Clothing

139 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011

The men’s clothing and leather goods shop opened in a very un-gentrified Chelsea in 1976. Nearly 20 years ago, the store’s co-founder died of AIDS, but it kept going. Then the rent more than tripled from $7,000 a month to $24,000 a month, and the store couldn’t afford it. It was ordered out by January 30, 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

139 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011

18. Archangel Antiques

334 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10003

That Sherry reported that after 21 years in the East Village, the shop full of oddities and vintage clothing could not keep up with the rent or competition. The owners also blamed the student population, which they said didn't have a lot of money or taste. It closed in June 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

334 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10003

19. Rodeo Bar

375 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10016

A piece of honky tonk in New York City. “Here, beneath the sparkling skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan, lay a country oasis that served sizzling Tex-Mex food, high-caliber margaritas and live music with plenty of twang,” wrote the New York Times. There was live music there for 27 years, but rent and insurance payments had quintupled since 1996. It closed on July 27, 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

375 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10016

20. Kim's Video and Music

124 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10009

A video store? Yes, kids, we used to go to real stores to buy (and rent) videos in physical form. Kim’s, which opened on Avenue A in 1987, had been described as a “mini empire” and had half a dozen locations. The First Avenue location was the last one left, and (of course) a rent hike forced them out in the summer of 2014. [Image: Google Maps]

124 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009