25 Random Things About Colonnade Row

In response to the deluge of requests for me to participate in the wacky '25 Things' kraze hitting the internets recently, I'm doing a slightly modified version on the building.

1. When it rains, the people on the top floor of my building have to throw a nylon tarp over the front of the building to prevent water from seeping in their windows and rotting their ceiling.

2.  The fireplaces in the rear apartments began to crumble from inside a few years ago and had to be sealed. They're now unable to be used.

3.  It is unlikely that the facade of the Colonnade will ever be restored.  The limestone that was used was of poor quality and pollution and age have rendered them beyond help.  Also, the two parties that own the buildings will never be able to agree (or afford) the cost.

4.  There are four separate townhouses in the remaining Colonnade, although most people think it looks like one.  Originally there were nine.  There is no connecting passage from within the buildings to each other although the front balcony does run uninterrupted.

5. President Tyler and his second wife, Julia Gardiner, held their post wedding 'breakfast' here following their wedding at Church of the Ascension on Thursday, June 26, 1844.  He was 54, she was 24.

6. Julia Gardiner's father, David Gardiner, was an owner of one of the houses at Colonnade Row.  He was killed in a freak accident during the ceremonial maiden sail of the Princeton, a new steamship, on the Potomac River when a cannon exploded fatally injuring him and a few other passengers.  Julia was also onboard but was not injured. 

7.  My neighbors and I built a beautiful wood deck  on the roof of the building in 1990 but had to dismantle it a few weeks later when another neighbor complained about it. 

8.  John Jacob Astor lived on the land where the Public Theater now stands and then moved into the Colonnade.  He built the Public as the Astor Library (the middle section) which later became annexed by the New York Public Library.  Years later, additions were added to the ends of it and after several other uses, became the Public Theater in the 1960's.

9.  The (original) Blue Man Group now own the north two buildings of Colonnade Row and reside there with their families.  Some theater employees also are housed there.

10.  Indochine restaurant will be celebrating their 25th year in business this fall.  Rizzoli is publishing a book with anecdotes from many of their customers.

11.  I was interviewed last week as 'the neighbor' for the Indochine book.  I may have said too much. 

12.  One night in the early 90's while I was taking out the garbage, I spilled the contents on David Geffen, Calvin Klein, Bianca Jagger, and Diane Von Furstenberg while they were hanging out in the foyer that my building shares with Indochine.  We all laughed. 

13.  The original name of Colonnade Row was La Grange Terrace.

14.  The first floors of the original buildings were the kitchens.   Food was sent to the upper floors on dumbwaiters.

15.  As one of the original perks during the initial sale of La Grange Terrace, buyers received free horse stables located on 9th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues.

16.  Many members from the original cast of Hair in 1967, lived here while they did the play at the Public Theater across the street.

17.  Edmund White, the author and playwright, lived here for many years and then moved to Chelsea in the early 90's.

18.  Washington Irving and Edgar Allen Poe were frequent guests of the first Colonnade residents.  Charles Dickens also lived here for awhile during his extended USA visit. 

19.  A popular New York City tourist guidebook refers to the Colonnade as "a decaying relic."

20.  The Times called the Colonnade, "a shabby old antique that someone sawed in half and left out for the garbage truck."

21.  The best tacos in the neighborhood are in that triangle building at Lafayette/Bleecker.

22. There are two separate 'loft buildings' in the back of the Colonnade that were built in the 1880's as additional housing. 

23.  These were the first New York City buildings to have indoor plumbing including hot and cold running water and toilets. 

24.  An iron gate once ran the entire length of the buildings but was removed when Lafayette Street was widened.

25.  There were originally two gas lamp torchieres that sat on two pedastals on either side of each main entrance (still standing at 432 & 434).


NYU To Destroy Unloved Little Chapel On WSP South

If community outrage couldn't save the Provincetown Playhouse from NYU's unyielding wrecking ball, then it was pretty unlikely that this quirky 1960's chapel would survive.  I've always had a soft spot for this little church because it was a bit homely but always looked so proud.  So much for that sentiment...because its demise is imminent.  In fact, destruction has already begun inside with workers removing and raping any salvageable piece from it. Of course, NYU will be building something on this prime lot for their spoiled students and staff with the new structure completely obliterating any view from Washington Square Arch to downtown and creating even more shadows on the park.  I don't understand why they just don't level the park and build a giant dorm while they're at it.  You know they're itching to and just consider the park a waste of prime real estate.  Oh NYU, I used to be glad you were my neighbor, but you turned on us all.   This is another reason to attend The Vanishing City event next Saturday.  For the sake of the city's soul, please come and learn what steps we can all take to help stop this constant destruction. 


The Unspeakable Horror of a Sex And The City Bus Tour

If you've ever wondered what it's really like to actually be on one of those tragic SatC bus tours, Vanity Fair hops onboard and gives us the play by play.  Cupcakes, cosmos, and dildos seem to be the main attraction.  Now, in the privacy of your own home, you can put on your elastic waist stone-washed Mom jeans or maybe a Mandee's pink cocktail dress and ride along!  Don't forget your camera!  And the tour guide even asks which SatC gal you are - a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte?  Funny...nobody ever seems to raise their hand to claim they're a big ole Miranda lesbian, however.   Oh the horror of it all. 

JUST ADDED! - A former SaTC fan tells Salon about her tour through hell.


Ada Louise Huxtable To Receive Louis Auchincloss Prize

Wow. That headline was a mouth full.  But this event is a big deal in the world of New York history and architecture, so you should go if you can.   Ada Louise Huxtable, the architecture critic for the Wall Street Journal and Pulitzer Prize winning historian, is being awarded the Louis Auchincloss Prize at the Museum of the City of New York on December 10th.  Mrs. Huxtable changed the way New Yorkers understood the city and her pointed articles and books have influenced and educated generations on how to view buildings.  She taught that architecture drives the social and cultural force of a city and she fought relentlessly to preserve and protect historical buildings through her articles, essays, books, and activism.  She's the last of a great breed - the native New Yorker who couldn't stand the thought of her city being mangled by thoughtless development and expansion and she pioneered women entering a man's profession by being one of the first women to question and critique architecture.  Ada is living history and this is your one chance to see her speak in person.

Louis Auchincloss Prize
awarded to 
Ada Louis Huxtable
Wednesday, December 10 - 6:30-8:30PM
Museum of the City of New York


This Is How You Do It, Debby

In contrast to Deborah Berke's nightmare around the corner at 48 Bond, (see below) the restoration and makeover of  316 Bowery is underway and it actually looks promising.   The trendy restaurant is already open and packed nightly on the ground floor but, then, that was probably a bar when the 19th century building - originally a hotel - first opened.   No, the upper floors won't look anything like the original, but at least the developers are restoring the facade to its glory days.   This is the opposite of what Deborah Berke, et al. did with their live-in refrigerator condos at 48.  See, Debs?  It's about fitting into the neighborhood, not plopping a scary steel box into an historic area that casts a chill when you pass it.  This restoration looks homey, warm, and inviting and bears no resemblance at all to a robot manufacturing plant.


Prison For Criminally Insane Opens At 48 Bond -- Oops, Them's Condos!

It's an honest mistake to confuse the newly finished - and sold out! - condos at 48 Bond with The Tombs prison or any other depressing maximum security mental or criminal facility.  It's grey - the developer likes to call it 'black' - it's cold, it's austere, and it's a perfect home for hardened, emotionless, unimaginative inhabitants who require conformity and uniformity.  No shortage of those these days!  I never thought I'd say this, but it makes Ian Schrager's 40 Bond, next door, look like an enchanting fairytale chalet - at least it has some character and individuality about it. But this stone and steel horror show at 48, is an ice-y, soulless mess and looks like a frozen storage annex for the nearby Avalon projects.  Yet, at the same time, I sort of feel sorry for it because it's so homely.  Of the four new modern structures that have risen on this block in recent years, this is definitely the ugly step-sister.  There's nothing sophisticated, elegant, or rich about it as the architect's website likes to boast.  I will agree that it's simple, modest, and complex but not in any complimentary meaning of the words.  Simple and complex?  Sure thing, Debby.

This block was once lined with the ornate mansions of New York's early aristocrats.  They would socialize on the sidewalks or on their grand stoops and promenade down Bond.  As I walk down this street today, there is little life to it other than a few restaurant patrons and a few dogs being walked.  However, there is beginning to be a bit more spillover from the frathole partiers on Bowery as several fresh puddles of vomit are almost always on the sidewalks in the mornings.  And now there's a symbol for the lifeless and vacuous who now consider themselves the new aristocracy in this neighborhood- a frigid monument to all that is shallow, transparent, and devoid of any color except their spray-on tans and blonde highlights, that is.  Welcome home to 48 Bond, Patrick Bateman!

And for bigger New York architectural disasters, click here.