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6 relics of NYC's past
The Hotel Carter--named the "dirtiest" hotel in the United States--was sold for a reported $190 million to real estate developer Joseph Chetrit, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Plans for the property are unclear, but it's likely it will be changed, taking one of the last remnants of old Times Square, joining the OTB Winners Circle and Peep World as things of the past.
But there are still a few places that have survived New York's gentrification. From a gay bar called The Cock to the glorious White Horse Tavern, some reminders that New York wasn't always so shiny and clean.
Head east on 43rd St. after 8th Ave. and you might think you are no longer in Times Square. At least not Times Square circa 2014, that is. On that stretch is Hotel Carter, a former flophouse named the "dirtiest" in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.com where a clerk killed a co-worker near the front desk in 1999 and another body was found under a bed a few years later. Oh and don't forget the bedbugs, cockroaches, and garbage smell. It's a relic of Times Square's seedy past--and perhaps one of the last relics left after Bare Elegance, the topless club located at 216 West 50th St., closed down four years ago. But the Hotel Carter might not be long for the new Times Square: The hotel went up for sale last year after the 2012 death of its owner (Vietnamese shipping magnate Tran Dinh Troung, who escaped Saigon with just cash and gold--but that's a story for another time). The building sold for $190 million, according to The Wall Street Journal, to real estate developer Joseph Chetrit, whose plans are unclear, but they likely will not include keeping the hotel as is. Times Square's rebirth will be complete. (Credit: Flickr / @josepha)
White Horse Tavern
The bar where Dylan Thomas allegedly drank himself to death (well he died in his room, but the drinks were at the bar) has survived its West Village location through the neighborhood's high-priced rebirth. After Thomas' death in 1953, the bar became a favorite of writers--attracting everyone from Jack Kerouac to Norman Mailer to Village Voice reporters. White Horse is one of the city's last remaining wood-framed buildings, and it keeps a portrait of Thomas on the wall to remind patrons of its bohemian past. The bar is more likely now to be filled with tourists or NYU students or other assorted locals who can afford to live in Greenwich Village (re: not struggling writers), but the bar serves as a reminder of what the neighborhood once was. If you visit, try not to drink more than 18 whiskeys--not only for your health, but also to keep Dylan's record alive. (Credit: Flickr / wallyg )
Long before Queens became cool (or ish), Woodside, Queens was an Irish immigrant enclave. The traditionally Irish bar Station Cafe is one of the last reminders of those days. The perpetually falling-down awning was replaced a few years ago by a spiffy (again, ish) new black sign, but inside the bar has remained delightfully the same, no matter much the area around it has gentrified. Legally founded in 1933 (it was initially a speakeasy), the Station Cafe is located near the Woodside stop on the 7 and the LIRR. To remind patrons of the bar's original clientele, there's still a sign over the bar that reads "Help Wanted. No Irish need Apply." (Credit: Flickr / @en321)
Red Hook Bait & Tackle
Yes, this actually is a bar. Red Hook Bait & Tackle is a former bait shop that became a spot for local fisherman to drink, and has now evolved to the modern bar, which opened in 2004. There's also plenty of other animal heads on the walls to remind everyone of the bar's past. Red Hook may have changed from its days as the "crack capital" of the U.S. (thanks Life magazine!), and Red Hook Bait & Tackle may have evolved, but it still retains its fishy theme as well as plenty of animal heads on the wall. (Credit: Flickr / @gottshar)
The sex shops have been run out of Times Square, but you can still find similar shops further down 7th Ave.--to the Village. In the corner of 7th Ave. South between 11th St. and Perry St., Fantasy World still exists, to serve all of your sex shop needs. Despite remaining true to its gritty roots (there are plenty of high-end sex shops you can visit if that's your thing), Fantasy World still hit it big earlier in 2014 when it was featured in the Zac Efron film "That Awkward Moment." (Credit: Flickr / @sauerhosen)
The Stonewall Inn is a tourist attraction now, but if anyone is in search of a bar that bears resemblance to the original, there's The Cock, an East Village dive that dates back to 1998. A self-described "rock and sleaze" gay bar, The Cock has no doors on the bathrooms, naked bartenders, and plenty of inappropriate touching. It's survived both Giuliani and Bloomberg, save for a location change that some call a bit tamer. (Credit: Flickr / @jasonparis)