Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Then and Now: Broadway and 91st Street, NYC

Broadway at 91st, Manhattan

Broadway between 90th and 91st Streets, NYC, randommusings.filminspector.com
The east side of Broadway between 90th and 91st Streets, NYC, in 1977.
Some neighborhood joints really strike a chord with people in the neighborhood. One such joint was Chun Cha Fu Restaurant, located on the Upper West Side. Apparently, it served "authentic" Chinese food (there are many levels of Chinese food, from completely Americanized with Uncle Ben's Rice and canned peas to squid soup down in Chinatown, so how authentic it actually was, who knows). Those who visited Chun Cha Fu Restaurant noted its "brocaded interior," which probably involved a lot of vaguely Chinese statues and dim lighting. Anyway, I came across the above photo of Chun Cha Fu from 1977 and grew curious what the block looks like now. So, this is a comparison of Broadway between 90th and 91st Streets from 1977 to 2017.

Broadway between 90th and 91st Streets, NYC, randommusings.filminspector.com
The east side of Broadway between 90th and 91st Streets, NYC, in late 2017 (Google Street View).
The first thing is to make sure that we have the right location because Chun Cha Fu and its neighbors are long gone. A little research revealed that Chun Cha Fu was at 2451 Broadway. There's no 2451 Broadway any longer, at least as a business street number, and now the storefront location is occupied by Carmine's Restaurant. We also can verify the location by the distinctive windows on the building (an apartment building at 2451-2459 Broadway), which was built in 1920.

Broadway between 90th and 91st Streets, NYC, randommusings.filminspector.com
The same block, the east side of Broadway between 90th and 91st Streets, looking north from West 90th Street (Google Street View).
The red building beyond, also visible in the original photo, is Haroldon Court at 215 West 90th Street. Haroldon Court was built in 1922, so this block hasn't really changed much in the memory of anyone now living aside from the changing names on the storefronts. Of course, those names change all the time, and they're how people remember a neighborhood, so the fact that the buildings themselves haven't changed in four decades is almost a minor detail.

Broadway between 90th and 91st Streets, NYC, randommusings.filminspector.com
The old Chun Cha Fu location on the east side of Broadway between 90th and 91st Street, New York City (Google Street View).
So, Chun Cha Fu is gone and is replaced by an Italian restaurant. Sic transit gloria mundo. However, at least this space is still a restaurant, and otherwise, the landscape is pretty much intact. It may seem strange to find it remarkable to see buildings still there after only four decades for someone in London or Paris. However, while it may not be at all unique in the United States, it isn't all that common, either. New York City has a lot of continuity, even if the people and the restaurants come and go.

I hope you enjoyed this entry in my "the more things change, the more they stay the same" series. Please visit some of my other entries in the series as we see how old treasures turn into new friends.

2019

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