The Grand Luncheonette: Sadly, No Place Left at the Table for 42nd Street Diner

The Grand Luncheonette: Sadly, No Place Left at the Table for 42nd Street Diner

Fred Hakim, last of the old-time Times Square hot-dog vendors, has died at the age of 83. Mr. Hakim’s family owned a hole-in-the-wall hot-dog counter in Times Square, which was the last of its kind when in the 1990s the city began condemning dozens of establishments like it in order to revitalize the area. The Grand Luncheonette was a seven-seat, 250-square-foot piece of Edward Hopper streetscape on West 42nd Street, which Mr. Hakim’s father had opened in 1941 and wryly named the Grand Luncheonette.

The Grand Luncheonette lived on 42nd Street for 58 years, grandly offering its greasy ambiance to the passing crowds in Times Square, proudly wrapped in shining chrome beneath the rotted marquee of the old Selwyn Theater. Mr. Hakim tried to keep the place open as a sort of living museum-like tribute to the golden age of Times Square’s hawkers, strippers and honky-tonks. But New York’s urban planners had other ideas, and after a two-year fight, he finally was evicted on Oct. 19th, 1997.

Writing about the demise of the Grand Luncheonette, a New York Daily News journalist pessimistically concluded: “This is bigger than 42nd Street, bigger even than the Disney Corp. This is about New York being colonized by The Gap and Banana Republic and Starbuck’s and all the rest. If new and improved Times Square is any indication, the standard for Italian cuisine will be the Olive Garden chain.”

Read more about the Grand Luncheonette in The New York Times here.

The nostalgic, touching documentary short film Grand Luncheonette was created by New York-based documentary filmmaker Peter Sillen.

Grand Luncheonette: Sadly, No Place Left at the Table

(Best Viewed in Full-Screen Mode with Scaling Off)

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Leon Levinstein: Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players

Leon Levinstein: Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players

Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players is a knockout series of photographs by Leon Levinstein, which recalls the vibrancy of Robert Frank’s urban scenes and the unselfconsciousness of Walker Evans’ hidden-camera subway shots, but with elements of levity and the grotesque.  Staking out New York City’s busiest public arenas, Times Square, Coney Island and Washington Square Park, Levinstein photographed hookers, hustlers, housewives, businessmen, cross-dressers, and the permanently down-and-out with no trace of sentimentality, but with plenty of heart.

From the early nineteen-fifties until a few years before his death in 1988, he worked on the fly, and almost always without engaging his subjects.  Perhaps that’s why his pictures still feel so urgent and raw.  Levinstein refined his Bowery compositions, but he never blunted his hit-and-run attack.  He wasn’t slumming or judging; always a loner himself, he was communing with New York at its grittiest, and clearly relishing the experience.

The Photography of Leon Levinstein (1950-1980)

Slide Show: Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Photo of the Day: Times Square Grand Dame de la Mode

Photo of the Day: Times Square Grand Dame de la Mode

Photography by:  Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

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Very Sad Santa: A Fairytale of New York

Very Sad Santa: A Fairytale of New York

Photography by:  Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

Christmas is there,
This Merry Christmas, gifts full arms,
Who heats our hearts and brings the joy,
Day of the most beautiful memories,
More beautiful day of the year.

-Washington Irving

The Pogues and Kirsty McColl: Fairytale of New York

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Times Square: The Characters, Dramas and Encounters of the Square

Times Square: The Characters, Dramas and Encounters of the Square

Photography by:  John Aron, NYC

Times Square is an ongoing project by John Aron, a photographer who lives near Times Square/Hell’s Kitchen.  Aron uses both traditional and modern techniques to achieve his goal of narrowing the focus of his black and white photographs in order to show what is most important in the scene.  Monochrome seems well-suited to the city; New York City is best described in black and white, which captures it in a way that’s simply more dramatic, perhaps romantic.

The infatuation of photographers with Times Square must be almost as old as the square itself, and no wonder.  It’s been the perfect place for the dramas and encounters that make great pictures, whether in the happy honky-tonk of the area’s glamorous days, decades ago when the neon lights really were the brightest on Broadway, or more recently when squalor and crime overtook the area and the facades of the great theaters of the 1890’s along 42nd Street disappeared behind porn parlor marquees.

Presented here are a number of John Aron’s striking photographs of people in Times Square, a slide show of his works and two short videos.

Moving People: The Rat Race in Times Square

A Slide Show: Times Square/The Characters, Dramas and Encounters of the Square

(Please Click on the Above Image to View Slide Show)

The Characters and Hard Times of Times Square

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Photo of the Day: Times-Square-Smokey-Hat

Photo of the Day: Times-Square-Smokey-Hat

Photography by:  Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

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Photo of the Day: The Scary Pink Color Coordinated Outfits

Photo of the Day: The Scary Pink Color Coordinated Outfits

Photography by:   Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

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