Monday, April 11, 2011

Premier Veal

The Meatpacking District quickly and quickly continues to lose the aspects of it related to meatpacking. I have worked in the neighborhood for a few years now and even at that point when I started working there it was already a very gentrified destination for rich individuals to dine and party and shop, however it has changed even more so in these past few years. There are only a few meatpacking plants that are still operational. I have witnessed a couple shutter. I used to take some pleasure walking to work really early in the morning and seeing large trash cans full of bones and scraps of meat that seagulls and pigeons picked apart, the sidewalks covered in animal fat, birds fat and happy circling in the air. The plant I am talking about here was on the northwest corner of Washington Street and West 13th Street. It closed a while ago and is to be demolished sometime after May 1. A really ugly building, tall and glass, is to go up in its place. I am going to be very sad when this change occurs, when this building is torn down. I have gotten lost in looking at the layers of paint on the building, imagining what's behind its brick walls, getting lost in the contemplation of the beauty of old metal meat hooks that still hang there on Washington Street, that these will only still be there for another couple weeks. There are thoughts of William Carlos Williams and his red wheelbarrow when I look at this building. Catch it while you can. You have a couple more weeks to walk around the thing and to think about the future and the past of this city.

Today, a sunny day, temperature in the seventies, I walked with Jacob along the High Line. I saw a building behind another one where the roof was caving in. I wanted to see it up close, so we walked over to West Street. There stood for a just a little while longer another meatpacking plant. I saw its demolition. These are really beautiful buildings with hand-painted business signs over their brick surfaces. This is really beautiful stuff that doesn't exist anymore, that isn't made anymore. This little slice of Manhattan, like most of Manhattan now, is desirable, is not on the edge of town anymore, is not a bad neighborhood. These factories make less and less sense economically, knowing their owners could make so much more selling the land to a developer. It's nice to get lost though and imagine a time when this neighborhood was these cobblestone streets and these grimy meatpacking plants and this city had an industrial pulse.

The building that was torn down said Premier Veal on its front in big painted letters. It sits on a piece of land that is to become the downtown location of the Whitney Museum. The demolition was very sad to watch. I was sad that we had stumbled on it, that no one else was there other than the construction workers tearing it down and a bicyclist who had stopped to take pictures. No one was here to mourn this building, to wish it farewell. It was lonely, was on the West Side Highway, a relic, a bit dilapidated, and thus beautiful.

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