Thursday, September 12, 2013

‘No Irving Place like home’

After more than fifty years at 32 Irving Place, the Rosicrucian Order’s New York City Lodge will pack up, move out, and return the keys to the landlord at the end of this month. The reason, as explained to me recently by a member, is the rising cost of rent.

Courtesy NYC Lodge
Unfortunately, it is an all-too-common refrain heard in the city that is transforming into the exclusive hyper-commercial center it obviously is becoming. Of course money never has been strange to New York City, and complaints of gentrification were on the record, even in Greenwich Village, a century or more ago, but now free enterprise is being supplanted by privilege enterprise. It is the relentless liquidation of beloved places where everyday people gather, as landlords decline to renew leases and opt instead to triple, quadruple, quintuple rents. These leases can be signed only by national chain stores, like the Ace Hardware and 7-Eleven which flank the Blue Note today (to say nothing of the proliferation of Starbucks and banks), or the incomprehensible boutiques that cater to the nonsensical rich. (There are three Marc Jacobs stores on Bleecker Street now.) It seems like every place that had any charm, every place you might have loved, every place where something important in your life happened is on the clock, waiting for that last day of whatever month in whichever year when the lease will be up, and the life’s work either must be relocated or surrendered entirely to the dollar Darwinism of the Bloomberg age. The billionaire mayor publicly laments not being able to lure all of Russias oligarchs to Manhattan to live. The obituaries of 2013 alone read like a book of lamentations as too many of the night clubs, eateries, bookshops, record stores, bakeries, and other landmarks of both time and place have shuttered, unable to pay the monies due monthly that dwarf the mortgage on my home. Can a small retail space on the ground floor of a 100-year-old building really be worth $60,000 a month? Today, evidently.

But I digress.

On Saturday, Rosicrucians from the lodge and their guests will gather at their longtime home to celebrate the spiritual life enjoyed there for the past half-century. And a celebration it will be, I’m sure. Rosicrucian teaching, in my limited understanding, explores the metaphysical, so I don’t doubt a new location will be settled without much disruption. I wish them the best.

1 comment:

E C Ballard ஃ said...

Apart from the obvious implications for fraternal orders, this will spell the demise of New York City as a place of interest and character. No doubt, it will be financially lucrative, but it will become bland and pedestrian. The unique character that made it desirable in the first place will be lost.