I Will Survive: Downtown Edition
In a city where streets change with the seasons, storefronts are renamed or repurposed yearly, and shops open and close faster than we can visit them, the establishments that have been able to stick around for decades – and sometimes centuries – deserve special mention. Scattered throughout Manhattan, there are ancient restaurants, galleries, butchers, and retail stores that have stood the test of time. Some have been passed down through generations of the same family, such as Rothman’s or Blumka Gallery, whereas others, including McSoreley’s, have been handled lovingly by a long line of owners who have been linked together only by their passion for the business. Still others, such as Marchi’s and The Silversmith, have survived thanks to their founders, who continue coming to the store each day despite being years beyond the traditional age of retirement.
It has been a magical experience being able to talk to the owners of these businesses, some of which existed way back when New York was essentially a collection of villages huddled around a port. I encourage anyone and everyone to visit Barbara Shaum’s workshop and engage in conversation with a woman who designed and made sandals that people wore to Woodstock, to taste Veselka’s classic pierogis, and to hear Alex Harsley’s tales of the celebrities and sites in New York that he has captured for the past forty plus years and featured in his 4th Street Photo Gallery. Each place has an amazing – and extended – history to share.