Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Then and Now: East 78th Street and Broadway, NYC

Broadway and 78th Street, Manhattan

Broadway at 78th Street, NYC,
La Caridad, 78th and Broadway, NYC, in 1978.
Little gathering places in New York City can play a big role in people's lives. People remember fondly that little bar they used to into after work, the flower shop with the nice lady behind the counter, the hair stylist down the block. Those kinds of places turn a sea of concrete into a home.

Broadway at 112th Street, NYC,
The real "Seinfeld" restaurant a few miles up the road from La Caridad.
"Seinfeld" featured such a place, though this isn't the same place (that's far uptown at West 112th Street). One such joint is La Caridad Restaurant on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Since I found a picture of it from 1978, I was curious what was there now. So, this is a comparison of East 78th Street and Broadway from 1978 to 2017.

Broadway at 78th Street, NYC,
78th and Broadway, NYC, in 2017 (Google Street View).
It always amazes me how durable things in New York City can be. Maintaining the same business for over 40 years in the high-stress world of Manhattan is a pretty impressive feat. However, if you find a niche and fill a human need capably and efficiently, you can keep at it pretty much indefinitely in New York City because the surroundings never really change that much, and there are always people who need their basic human needs met.

Broadway at 78th Street, NYC,
Another view of 78th Street and Broadway, NYC, courtesy of Google Street View.
One can tell from a glance at the photographs that a few things have changed. The exterior of the restaurant is a bit fancier, with a larger sign that doesn't appear to be sponsored by any major companies like the 1978 sign was (which was very common in the deli/restaurant business back in the day). It does look, though, like they do have some promotional signs in the windows now - some things never change. However, there are more things that are the same rather than different, such as the loading entrance on the right, the large windows so characteristic of delis back in the day, and what looks like a thriving clientele. Basically, if you look past the superficialities, it is the same joint, doing the same thing under the same name in 2017 as it was doing in 1978. That's impressive.

Broadway at 78th Street, NYC,
Another view of 78th Street and Broadway, NYC, courtesy of Google Street View.
So, we've stumbled upon a durable Manhattan joint. One can think of La Caridad Restaurant as the real-life "Tom's" (or is it Monk's) from Seinfeld. Places like that just keep chugging along, decade after decade, because people have to eat and they like to do it in a clean, well-lighted place.

I hope you enjoyed this entry in the "the more things change, the more they stay the same" series. Please visit some of my other looks at how cities change over time, often in very subtle and easy-to-overlook ways - as at the southwest corner of Broadway and 78th Street.


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