Friday, June 14, 2019

Then and Now: El Sombrero Restaurant, NYC

Stanton Street at Ludlow Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan

Stanton at Ludlow, NYC,
Ludlow Street at Stanton Street, Manhattan, New York, 1988.
I came across the above 1988 picture of a restaurant on the Lower East Side and decided to track down what the site looks like recently. This is a comparison of Ludlow Street at Stanton Street in Manhattan, New York, from 1988 to 2017.

Stanton at Ludlow, NYC,
The northeast corner of Stanton and Ludlow in November 2017 (Google Street View).
The first thing that I like to do is to verify that we have the right location. While the restaurant exterior doesn't look very similar, the windows and facade of the building match up, although the color of the stonework looks a bit lighter. The windows and fire escape ladders on the building definitely match. The manhole cover in the foreground is the same, as is the red fire alarm or whatever that is just above it. The light pole on the corner is in the same place, although it appears they have replaced the harsh sodium light with a more genteel - or gentrified - hooked light. The buildings in the background on the left (Stanton Street) are the same. It appears we have a definite match from 1988 to 2017.

Stanton at Ludlow, NYC,
Northeast corner of Stanton and Ludlow, NYC (Google Street View).
The scene from Google Street View was a bit deceptive. At first glance, it looks as if the corner spot where El Sombrero was located might now be abandoned. It definitely looks in need of some work. However, taking a closer look at the restaurant space, it turns out that it is still in business. While the exterior doesn't look in very good shape, it's a good sign that someone is working at the sidewalk entrance to the restaurant's basement.

Stanton at Ludlow, NYC,
Signs of life inside El Sombrero even if there aren't any signs with its name on the outside (Google Street View).
You can also see some food through one of the windows. Everything looks reasonably shipshape despite the exterior's rather depressing deterioration. The potted trees on the sidewalk suggest someone is still there to make the place look nice. Doing a little digging reveals that this is 108 Stanton St, New York, NY, 10002 and that El Sombrero Restaurant still occupies the space - thirty years later. They must have been replacing the signage when this picture was taken. El Sombrero is still in business at the same location as of 2019.

Stanton at Ludlow, NYC,
Southwest corner of Ludlow and Stanton, NYC (Google Street View).
Turning around 180 degrees, we see that the corner store on the opposite corner (southeast corner of Ludlow and Stanton) is for rent. So, the neighborhood is in flux, and perhaps gentrification is starting to hit Ludlow and Stanton big league. Time for El Sombrero to upgrade that old signage!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this entry in my "the more things change, the more they stay the same" series. Please visit some of the other entries in the series to see how the Big Apple has changed in some ways but remained the same in a whole lot more.


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