university place.JPGWe went to Patsy’s Pizza on University Place tonight, celebrating several things: more than three consecutive hours without rain; the conclusion of the first week of summer camp; the beginning of the 4th of July weekend; summer.

Patsy’s is just down the block from Dean & DeLuca’s, whose gray banner was slightly longer than Patsy’s green flag. Husband and I have each spent hours and hours in D&D’s elegantly high-ceilinged interior over the past twenty years: it’s a great place to meet students, a great place to meet colleagues to discuss the inanities of students. Early in our courtship we sat and discussed books and miserable previous relationships with equal fervor. The coffee was too expensive but the muffins were divine – it was Starbucks before Starbucks and with a lot more character.

Well, it’s gone. Only the flagpole remains: 

D&D flagpole.JPGVanished, another casualty in the endless New York real estate wars. Husband and I stood and stared, amazed, and a few other passers-by stopped too, equally shocked by the apparent vaporization of a University Place landmark (albeit one with a string of health code violations). Someone walking by said it closed on the last day of June, three days ago.  And already the interior has been stripped bare –  no sign, no notice, no “thanks for the memories,” nuthin. Just …  gone.

University Place is the street of my graduate-school youth: it’s the site of the NYU English Department, which I would walk to from Union Square, where I got off the subway from, variously, Long Island City, Fort Greene, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and miscellaneous “between apartment” couches at friends’ apartments. Dean & Deluca was a big splurge in those days – a bigger splurge than beer at the Cedar Tavern, also gone.

Perhaps it was the dual deaths of Farrah and MJ last week that have made me more nostalgic than usual, but I noticed a lot of “gone” as I walked back up the street, after Patsy’s, while the boys scouted for the ice cream truck.

The antique store on the corner across from D&D – gone; the dueling futon stores across the street from each other – gone;
universitypl2.JPGthe Cedar Tavern – gone; the great fabric store on the corner of 14th street – gone. Further down the block, where Joyce Leslie used to sell wildly cheap clothes (and great tights)? A Duane Reade is coming. The legendary Lee Bauman’s, the amazing and less expensive alternative to Le Petite Coquette, where bras cost more than a week of my salary? Now a Chipotle restaurant.

There are, however, several spiffy new condo buildings that have gone up to replace some of these buildings, a fact I’m sure you’ll find completely unsurprising. And replacing the fabric store on the corner of University and 14th? No surprise there, either: 

UniversityPl3.JPGIf things go on at this pace, I think pretty soon all of New York will be condos or banks, banks or condos. With the occasional Duane Reade thrown in for variety.