April 27, 2010



A New Yorker’s reflection of an earlier time in Manhattan, back when nightclubs were more than $300 bottles of vodka and when restaurants weren’t part of chains. Now, those were fun times.

A group of people are out cocktailing at one of Gotham’s countless bars, when suddenly, someone let’s out a loud “New York is so much fun!” Chances are the person doing the shouting is either young, new to the city, or simply here on vacation.

Invariably, you’ll see someone at another table (or possibly someone else in the same group) offering an eye roll, a chortle, or just a sigh. This, they’re suggesting, is nothing. New York City used to be much, much more fun a decade or two ago. There was a time in New York City when spontaneity permeated the air. Fun, or for that matter danger, lurked just around the next corner. Sometimes the two were one in the same.

These were the days when an artist, actor or writer could find a $500 studio apartment on the far reaches of Manhattan, like Alphabet City or the Lower East Side. Today, these are the neighborhoods New York magazine calls the most livable in Manhattan. And that studio now costs $2,000 a month, if you’re lucky enough to find it.

What I’m really talking about is New York City before Rudolph Giuliani became mayor in 1994 and made it his mission to install a series of quality-of-life laws upon the city. These measures eliminated spontaneous window washing by scary squeegee men on 9th Avenue, forced the X-rated shops along 8th Avenue to shut down, and increased the police presence throughout the city.

Before Giuliani, a sense of organized chaos ruled the street. Times Square was a risky-yet-thrilling proposition and the “Disneyfication” of 42nd Street had yet to take place. Manhattan was first and foremost a playground for adults, which meant that for the over-21 crowd, fun came out at night.

Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/views/columns/2010/04/26/cody-lyon-on-past-new-york-city-clubs-and-restaurants#ixzz0mIjqLj1y