Monday, June 10, 2019

Then and Now: Second Avenue at East 89th Street, NYC

Second Avenue and 89th Street, New York City

Second Avenue at 89th Street, NYC,
Second Avenue at 89th Street, Manhattan, in 1986.
New York City is a diverse city with a lot of variety in its neighborhoods. History endures throughout the city and not just in certain protected neighborhoods. City laws help preserve old buildings even if they don't do it outright through regulations involving air rights, where a low building can survive by selling its air rights to a taller neighbor. That appears to be what has happened on the East Side, so let's do a comparison of Second Avenue at East 89th Street from 1970 to August 2018.

Second Avenue at 89th Street, NYC,
Second Avenue at 89th Street, NYC, in August 2018 (Google Street View).
We are facing north, looking up Second Avenue from the northeast corner of East 89th Street. This is the western side of Second Avenue. Comparing a recent photo of the same block to the one from 1986, it appears that all of the buildings are the same. The same row of five-story buildings probably from the late 19th Century is there, and a large residential building (Knickerbocker Plaza) looms over them on the western side of Second Avenue at 91st Street (Ruppert Park is in between). Knickerbocker Plaza was built in 1975 - it's amazing how Ruppert Park gets swallowed up by the perspective in the 1986 photo, but it's there. As with so many of these comparisons, the second thing that leaps out from the scene is the addition of trees, which helps to give the block a more residential and less stark air.

Second Avenue at 89th Street, NYC,
Google Street View.
Just like in 1986, there is still a dry cleaner at 1729 Second Avenue, now called T.C. Cleaners. The laundromat at 1737 Second Avenue (the red building on the corner) also is still there, though it doesn't appear to be operating under the same name. However, 2nd Avenue Video next to the latter laundromat is long gone. There will always be a need for laundromats, but video stores, not so much.

Second Avenue at 89th Street, NYC,
The same row of buildings, looking south along the west side of Second Avenue from East 90th Street (Google Street View).
Decades ago, this area of Yorkville would have been considered a fringe area, with Spanish Harlem beginning at around 92nd Street. These days, it's not considered fringe at all. However, the decades when the men with money turned their noses up at building fancy homes in the upper stretches of the Upper East Side helped to preserve some of the 19th Century architecture which survives into the 21st Century.

Second Avenue at 91st Street, NYC,
Knickerbocker Plaza, which has been at the corner of East 91st Street and Second Avenue since 1975 (Google Street View).
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 pages where we look at how it was then, and how it has changed into now.


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