|The Lost Diner (Terminal Diner) 1995|
I recently learned that the Empire diner in Chelsea will be back in business soon. I guess this is great news for all those (like myself) who saw the slow disapearance of all of Manhattan's classic diners. Before it closed, the Empire had become an expensive restaurant, a bit far from the American diner's tradition. I bet that it will now be a luxury and/or gourmet restaurant catering to Chelsea's hip crowd...but at least it still exists and its owners have obviously understood the value of such a place as a real New York landmark.
In the mid-90's, there were a few diners left in Manhattan, trying to survive in a city that had already started to change.
The Jones diner on Lafayette actually showed an amazing resistance to the transformation of this very trendy area. It was small and greasy but a real fixture of NoHo area when Lafayette street was still a kind of frontier between the already super-gentrified Soho and the still kind of gritty (but already changing) East Village. A bit more west was another New Yorkers favorite: The Moondance with its poetic name and its moon crest spinning night and day above the entrance door. A diner that was dismantled to be rebuilt in Providence, Rhode Isalnd, but it finally closed in 2012.
But it's probably along the West side that one could find some of the prettiest exemples of this classic architecture. The Cheyenne was definitly a classic New York place you could find in touristic guides and the untouched Market Diner (were Sinatra used to meet with his mafia friends in the good old times), was hosting cool parties at night. The Market Diner is actually one of the latest casualties of the current real estate frenzy in New York. It was recently destroyed and will be replaced by guess what ? A big glass tower !
Some other diners, smaller and not as spectacular located closer to the West side highway had been forgotten but were still standing. The River Diner with its deep blue store front and of course the Lost Diner that I had the chance to discover while exploring the area. It's obvioulsly its real classic look that caught my attention and of course its wonderful name ! I thought that it could be perfect as a location for a David Lynch film. A name that was fairly recent at the time since a new team had taken it over and was trying to give back its former deco glory. Originaly named The Terminal Diner, it was finaly totaly abandoned in 2006 and slowly became a ruin.
As I have written in my post dedicated to New York's diners, I shot a lot of images of this diner as well as of all the others for an article (which was not published) for french magazine Telerama. Unfortunately these images were never returned to me by its editor Pierre Murat. I was fortunate enough to find a second choice in my archives in order to keep a trace of these old diners and I am happy to able to share these photographs with you today.
|Indian Larry, Alphabet City, Winter 1996|
A little bit of fresh air for the last days of a hot summer !
Winter 1996 is remembered for its incredible blizzard and snowstorm, which literally paralyzed Manhattan for a few days. A wonderful opportunity for photographers to walk around the city to capture instants where everything feels still and quiet in the bright white wonderland.
Living in the East Village at the time (12th/Ave.A), I went for a stroll this early Sunday morning in Alphabet City and the Lower East Side to witness a total very different vibe of the whole area
Bright light and sky, unusual silence, some skiers in the middle of the empty streets. Everything buried under the thick snow.
Somewhere near Avenue C, my attention was caught by the roaring sound of motorcycles. At the end of the block, some tough looking guys where riding bikes in the snow, laughing and acting crazy, drinking and smoking. One of them skidding on the snow with a dirt bike, only wearing a pair of shorts despite the cold and showing tattoos on his chest and arms. I snapped a couple of pictures.
It's only a couple of years ago when the internet site EV Grieve wrote a nice review of my blog with a selection of my pictures that I had the surprise to learn who was that crazy looking dude!
The one and only Indian Larry, bike builder, stunt rider and biker, notorious Alphabet city resident and a TV show host. I learned that he died in 2004 from injuries due to an accident while performing in a bike show.
He was known in the neighborhood as Indian Larry because of the chopped Indian motorcycle he used to ride in the streets of New York City.
RIP Indian Larry! It was great crossing your path on that 90's winter day!