They don’t call it WesternTOFU, y'know.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Now before you click away muttering about how far we’ve fallen here doing topless stories, consider that Billy’s is featured in Cornell University’s Fine Arts Collection.
Also #8 on Buzzfeed's list of 20 things.
There’s even an iTunes podcast dedicated to Billy’s history.
But to really understand this beloved bar, we have to go all the way back to 1886 the year our ClockTower was built.
German immigrants John Koster and Albert Bial had a vaudeville complex at 23rd and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, but soon expanded to a new building they called “The Corner” one block up on 24th. That’s where Billy’s was.
The building at the corner of 24th St. (its address in 1886 was 389 Sixth Ave.) was constructed beginning on June 4th, 1886 and completed January 25th, 1887.
The Corner served as a saloon for Koster and Bial’s successful beer bottling business.
Serving cold beer in the front room and hot showgirls for a small fee in the back, it was only a few years (and a matter of time) before they were raided and their beer hall was closed down.
The local papers cheered.
Now let’s leap forward about 70 years and history repeats itself.
Billy Pell opens “Billy’s Topless” in 1970 on the same site. Billy’s was about the same as K&B's, a much enjoyed neighborhood hangout with golden-hearted strippers and respectful old men, but with the worst free-food buffet in Chelsea.
Billy's was a true dive---but a great one---until we elected prosecutor Rudy Giuliani as our Mayor.
Giuliani was obsessed with closing places like Billy’s, so he changed zoning rules again and again to make it very tough to stay open.
Billy’s even dropped the apostrophe and rebranded for awhile as “Billy Stopless” in compliance, but Giuliani wore the owners down and the bar closed forever in 2001.
It was a bagel and pizza shoppe for awhile. Ugh.
The hardware store next door is still one of the remaining, old-school best.
But let’s face it: cheap 1970‘s joints like Billy’s made New York, N.Y., “Noo Yawk”.
Now there’s one less neighborhood place to come in from the cold.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Built in three stages beginning in 1885-86 by architects A.B. Ogden & Son, our Estey Piano Factory home is a NYC Landmark.
The factory wing along Lincoln Avenue to 134th street was started later in 1909 then raised to the full 5 stories in 1919 as the Estey Company grew. But it’s the original section on the corner of Bruckner and Lincoln that is a reigning Bronx example of what has come to be called “Richardsonian Romanesque” architecture, a specific type of Romanesque Revival (1870-1900).
Commercial buildings in this style are generally associated with a heavy structural appearance almost always built in masonry and often in red brick with stone detailing.
Other typical features include bold inset cast terracotta decoration,
belt courses of “zig-zag” or “in-out” brick,
roundtop windows with repeat arches as used in ancient Rome,
carved figures including cherubs, griffins, and lions,
and stone corbels with cornices, a flat roof and often, a tower.
(check check check)
Richardsonian Romanesque, folks.
We live in a landmark.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Remember Bette Midler’s Million Tree project
we reported back in April?
I met one of her protégé’s in Brook Park the other day,
at 141st and Brook Avenue.
It’s a Hornbeam.
These trees are well suited to harsh urban living.
First, it’s ideal for our frost zone and it will grow in
almost any soil.
Second, the wood is hard and very pest and disease
resistant. Early settlers made bowls and implements from
this tough wood.
The leaf is elongated and pointed and with teeth along the edges.
It turns yellow/orange in Fall.
In Spring it produces a hanging fruit city birds and
squirrels will feast on.
They say planting a tree is the ultimate act of faith in a better future.
Good luck, little guy.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Ingrained problems are surfacing and dialog is turning into civil disobedience.
We have been here before.
Our premise of equality under the law and personal freedom remains the best any country has to offer.
If the UN were to take down all immigation laws for just one week,
half the world would pour into our country.