High Line Item: Vanishing New York


What's this you ask? Towleroad reader Michael Mayer sends in this photo of a worker on what will soon be New York's newest outdoor space, the High Line (I've posted about it before here and here) sterilizing one of its views, which happens to be located on the site of the legendary gay Roxy nightclub (which incidentally, as far as I know, is sitting empty – it was scheduled for development as a condo but I've heard those plans have fallen through in the recession).

Mayer laments: "I noticed this morning that a worker on the new High Line is in the process of painting over the graffitti that has forever been a part of the Roxy's structure….Could you post about this. I think what make the High Line so special is its attempt to claim urban decay as a feature of beauty…not about painting over any former features of the city."

No doubt some of you who consider graffiti a blight will disagree but in certain cases I think it might add some character to this newly gentrified bit of the city.



  1. voodoolock says

    sad to see such public statements painted over. do they really think white paint is more beautiful? i guess the good news is that small children growing up here will rebel against the whitewash.

  2. James says

    I agree with you Glenn
    They should reopen the legendary Roxy.
    Being the dance music fanatic that I am,and keeping up with what DJs/dance music producers are up to,the one person I know who could get a decent thing going at that space again is the renowned DJ Peter Rauhofer.Roxy was and always will be Peter Rauhofer’s home (thats where he started his career)

    keeping some nightlife,alittle urban decay,gay men in that area will keep that place alittle personality and color,rather than being a dull,colorless,yuppieville.Its a shame how low New York has sunk.This city is losing its touch.

  3. JT says

    It lost it a long time ago, James. Manhattan is just the big dull headquarters now, the place to live for doctors and executives so they have a very short commute to work. The mystery is basically gone. But…that’s okay, everything changes. It really IS funy, though, that we’d see a day when the average suburb had more intrigue going on than Manhattan.

  4. Matt says

    The white wash provides a fresh canvas for a new generation to leave their mark.

    Manhattan has been a bland, overpriced shopping mall for quite awhile. I think Toronto has more of an edge. Perhaps hard times will bring back some of the grit that is so missing now.

  5. says

    Problem is, that graffiti is stupid. Once it’s covered up, someone can do some new, wicked cool graffiti instead of ugly block letters that don’t spell anything.

  6. Alex says

    If you don’t want it painted over, maybe you should have bought it and done with it what you choose. Or been involved in any committee meetings about what to do with the site. Etc. Etc. Your apathy is to blame, not the city.

    If you want another Roxy, open one. Again, apathy.

    If you’re bored in NYC, make it interesting. Apathy.

    People want to blame everyone but themselves for their utter boredom…bitching from your keyboard won’t change the world.

  7. crispy says

    Late to the party here, but I can’t let that Peter Rauhofer comment go by. He did not get his start at the Roxie! Why do these cracked out queens think New York is the center of the gay universe?

    Peter Rauhofer is from Austria! He started spinning there long before he moved to NY, and he had a fairly successful career producing music as Club 69 before he took over as Roxie’s main DJ.

  8. says

    Ahh, New York.

    I arrived in March 1989 after having been deported from The UK. Don’t ask.

    I lived in a really expensive apt at the Gansevoort where I worked as one of the first bookers ( I arrived just in time to see the worlds greatest booker, Ivan Bart, take leave, I should have run with him!) at Boss Models which was run by a certifiably crazy man who shall remain nameless (David Bosman or some such).

    I used to wander the streets where everywhere you went you heard “You used to hold me” and the De La Soul album.

    Mars and Sound Factory rocked and I could never figure out why their wasn’t a bar in so many clubs (X).

    At night I would go down to the piers and watch the queens do this crazy dancing and tell my friends in L.A. that something called “Vogueing” was happening and would hit the West Coast sooner or later.

    I used to see this dilapadated structure and wish they would tear it down. I’m glad they didn’t, this will be very cool when it’s done.

    Anyways. That is all gone (L.A. too. It’s just as “Toolified” as NYC now). Nostalgia is cool, but, we all need to just, “get over it.”

    C’est la vie.

  9. JT says

    A percentage of the new doctors, lawyers, execs, rich professionals, etc., who are populating Manhattan have got to be gay, too, though. If I had to guess, I’m gonna say we’ll see some great new clubs popping up in the future, but in the other Buroughs. Manhattan will be big dull safe home headquarters, and Brooklyn and Queens will be for the spunky fun. Something like that. Which might be, because of location, cooler than ever : with guys from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, NJ, Conn., and visting out-of-towners all together in the mix.

  10. JT says

    And, I should mention the obvious, this is also because rent in the Boroughs is still cheaper.

  11. Ray says

    Andy is right – some will disagree.

    The mayor’s graffiti task force dates to 1995 and was reorganized in 2004. Strong state legislation supports the city’s efforts. Many have cited the successful programs to address graffiti as one of the pillars of the city’s impressive turn around. As a result, many newly discovered New York (or returned (me)) to an appealing place to work, study and LIVE.

    The High Line preservation project traces its roots to the late 80’s. The FHL organization was incorporated nine years ago. High Line plans are very public. No surprises.

    This West Village and MePa are not ‘newly’ gentrified – their transformation has been a concerted genuinely public ten year evolution. Both are historically protected districts. The community has had a loud and continuous voice in what was to be preserved.

    Despite ones appreciation for the illegal guerilla art form, it’s disingenuous to post about this removal as if its somehow inconsistent with what has been going on in plain sight for well over a decade.

    My point, (proud) New Yorkers had the debate long before the flood of new residents came in, the decisions were made, the process of change began almost a generation ago and it continues right here.

    Sure you can call it “Vanishing New York” – but my hunch is many view it as yet another reincarnation of this great city.