Protected: A Night for Justice

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Schrafft’s at the Esso Building, 1948

Looked like a midcentury lunchroom on the West 51st St. side, and a Danish-Modern cocktail lounge from the West 52nd St. entrance. One of the larger Schrafft’s, it not only ran through the block but had two levels.

It opened in the mid-40s while the Esso Building was being completed at 75 Rockefeller Plaza, and seems to have closed about thirty years later.

Originally Rock Plaza was intended to extend to West 53rd Street, but the developers were unable to buy out the ’21’ Club on the south side of the , across from what would become the north entrance of Schrafft’s, and a stone’s throw from Toots Shor.

The Years with Wrath (1960)

For its July 1960 issue, Esquire magazine featured an all-star lineup of contributors offering their paeans to New York City (which in this case means mostly, though not entirely, the sort of Manhattan depicted in The Best of Everything). Perhaps the best piece, a one-page affair, was written by the obscure T.E. O’Neill. Called “The Years with Wrath,” it’s a pointed but affectionate parody of James Thurber’s memoir about working under Harold Ross at The New Yorker.

With any luck you should be able to read this image here . . . somehow . . .

July Forum Is Canceled But

There will be a lunch in the coming weeks.

Seventh Ave & 53rd St Subway Station: Unconscionable

Surely the IND subway station at West 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue must be the most gawd-awfully arranged hole in the city. Its three levels, with a near-complete dearth of escalators (okay, there’s one, if you can find it, and it’s working) must defeat even the most intrepid first-time visitor.

Descending to the lowermost, or Downtown, ramp, you find that one side takes you down 8th Avenue (E train) whilst the other takes you down Sixth (D or B). Make your decision carefully, as it’s not a question of Express versus Local. If you’re just going to 34th St. and pick the wrong one, you’ll find yourself 3/8ths of a mile from where you wish to be. If you think you’re going Uptown (or Crosstown), a mistake may be much bleaker, and you’ll end up in Queens when you really wish to change for the A train at Columbus Circle. Then of course there’s the problem of rerouting, with F and M and Q trains coming through the station as their fancy strikes them.

No doubt there are fascinating historical reasons for this confusion, but your best bet is just to avoid the station altogether. Sometimes there are fires and it all shuts down.

NYT Gets the ‘Inner City’ All Wrong

In a curious memory lapse, the New York Times spins the phrase ‘inner city’ as an odd coinage of Donald Trump. Writing in The Upshot column yesterday, Emily Badger strains to argue that the expression is inappropriate, as many ‘inner cities’ are doing well.

There’s a lot to unpack here. In the first place, the phrase was popularized in the 1960s by the NYT and other New York-based entities (New York Urban Coalition, the Urban League). It was expressly intended as a euphemism for negro slum. If the phrase ‘inner city’ still connotes ‘black ghetto,’ that would seem to be the fault of the New York Times, not Donald Trump. The Times even admits this origin:

The phrase “inner city” is often used to suggest that the historical image and the modern place are one and the same — or even that the “inner city” is still a meaningfully identifiable place at all, with clearly implied demographics (black, poor) and connotations (violence, decay). It still evokes the particular context when the phrase became popular in the 1960s and ’70s.

 

Weirdly, the columnist goes on to argue that ‘inner city’ is now inappropriate because some inner cities today do not suffer from too much violence and decay. That is, they’re not as slummy and dangerous as you might think. So you shouldn’t say ‘inner city.’

This is frivolous sophistry. If Trump seems to be conjuring up images of colored slums of the 1960s, it’s because the basic political reality has not changed since then. Across the political spectrum, blacks are still generalized as a poor and needy population dependent on Federal largesse and affirmative-action quotas.

Sesame Street may have cleaned itself up, and forgotten that it was supposed to be set in Harlem, but politically we are still in the late 60s, when Eve Merriam, alias Moskovitz, wrote her dreadful Inner City Mother Goose.