THROWBACK THURSDAY: MEMORIES OF GREAT LOX


Photo by Stephen Harmon. Click to enlarge.

A two-story building on 72nd Street between Broadway and West End once housed several small shops, wrote Stephen Harmon, who took this shot in the late 70’s or early 80’s.

“This is the north side of W. 72d St. between West End Ave. and Broadway,” he wrote. “None of this exists today. That small building was torn down and a huge apartment building has taken its place. Oscar’s was a fantastic ‘Appetizing’ store that had lox that was as good as Zabar’s.”


Here’s the spot more recently.

NEWS | 76 comments | permalink
    1. Mark says:

      The Luxurification of the Upper West Side includes residences, business, attitudes, values…

    2. womatnyc says:

      201 west 72nd street as it stands today is FUGLY !

      • B.B. says:

        Agreed.

        Nice large corner lot that could have been so much more, such as a nice “pre war” looking building that blended in with things; but no…

        Guess when you consider how things were real estate wise in 1989-1990, the results speak for themselves. The Alexandria went up in less than one year; you cannot build quality that quickly.

    3. Trevor says:

      Remember it well great deli, also Stanleonti one of the first upscale men’s boutiques on the west side.

    4. Maria L. says:

      And before these stores, there would have been brownstones, or small tenements, or open land, and before that, farm land. Yes, sad to lose small businesses, low rise buildings. But pics exist all over the place of the area behind farmland or houses with a lot of property. The Dakota was given its name because it was a built in an area that was like the wild, wild west, with open land all around. Wherever you live in NYC, with a handful of possible exceptions, there is a long list of “nicer” places before your current building was erected. Just a thought that none of us are without blame in the loss of “nice” space and “neighborhood” buildings.

      • Mark says:

        So are you for “the loss of ‘nice’ space and “neighborhood” buildings”?

        • Maria says:

          Of course I am not “for it.” That farmland and open spaces would be far more attractive and natural and beautiful than the current building OR the small buildings with the neighborhood stores in the pic OR the small houses/brownstones/tenements those small buildings replaced. The whole place was most beautiful at all before European showed up (imagine the views near the Hudson, near New York Harbor, and a long etcetera). Those small buildings with the stores sure looked ugly to the people who lived in the neighborhood before they were built. Too easy to complain of the here-and-now; too easy not to see what the “new” buildings of 75 or 100 or 150 years ago seemed like to the then-residents. What do you think your apartment building replaced? Did the people who lived there before it was built like the new one? Too much NIMBY going on. And yes, these new buildings are often horrible, but so were earlier ones in the eyes of those earlier beholders.

          • Mark says:

            To answer your question: the house I live in was built more than a century ago, and is pleasing to the eye.

            Do you excuse all the ugliness that is welcomed to our neighborhood?

            • Jay says:

              Dan, good job ignoring the excellent point that Maria is making.

              Answer the question: is the building you live in now more aesthetically pleasing that the open forest/space that existed before it?

            • keith says:

              Ok, I am going to defend Maria here.

              The reality is the poetic waxing was about the stores and the neighborhood memories of local business. The actual buildings those old stores were in were not really constructed for a 100 year life. They were probably filled with asbestos and eventually required enough repair to not make keeping them practical. The additional residences and more sensible use of the footprint these buildings occupy probably in the long run outweighs either the architectural significance of these buildings or the deli for that matter.

              I am all for saving as much worth saving and encouraging development with beautiful new buildings, but if the moral of this story was reminiscing about a great neighborhood deli I might suggest focusing more energy on supporting those small and local shops in the neighborhood rather than kvetching about the regeneration of run down mediocre buildings.

            • Sean says:

              Stop picking a fight with everyone. Grab a beer and eat some bread.

            • Mark says:

              Keith, you must know that both the WSR story and my Comment were not about “the moral of this story was reminiscing about a great neighborhood deli.”

              Stop belittling the story, my Comment, and with it, the neighborhood.

            • Mark says:

              Jay, the point is..that you intentionally miss, is that the built environment for our neighborhood should be better than the Alexandria.

              But continue to support that eyesore and criticizing me, if it helps you live with it.

            • maria says:

              Let’s be specific. Your house is pleasing to your eye. Do you think it was pleasing to the eyes of the people who lived in the area before it was built?

            • Mark says:

              Yes.

              And to your entire point: By claiming that all the changes, starting with Henry Hudson on, were incremental degradation over the previous environment, you justify any continued degradation, including the loss of neighborhood stores and ‘neighborhood experience’.

            • Jay says:

              Dan, your “eyesores” are very selective. I’m sure there are a few people that would say your building is an eyesore. Maybe they are right. Perhaps the UWS would be “nicer” without it…

              You don’t get to judge what’s nice. Especially because your comments suggest you aren’t subjective.

            • Mark says:

              Jay, most Commenters on this WSR story are unhappy that these stores are gone, including me.

              You somehow post comments about my house. What is your point?

    5. Michael B Davis says:

      there went the neighborhood

    6. Danny Franks says:

      We lived on WE Ave. @ 71st & visited most of those stores on 72nd St. Unfortunately rent hikes eliminate many good stores!

    7. Lifelong Uptown Girl says:

      Just as important: In the 50’s and 60’s Sam’s Delicatessen was across the street from Oscar’s. Sam’s not only had great lox but the best pumpernickel, which they sold by the pound, cutting from a giant loaf. They also had open barrels of pickles, sauerkraut, and sour tomatoes.

    8. Janet Sullivan says:

      In regard to the former lovely north side of 72nd St, it was also a longtime outpost of Integral Yoga which was one of the earliest yoga presences in New York

      • Mark says:

        Who needs Yoga when you got Bloomingdale Outlet?

        • GG says:

          You know, Mark, ever since you showed up here and stole original Mark’s name I haven’t quite been able to figure you out.

          Your comments are usually very perplexing for me. Maybe because it is written text but are you trying to be sarcastic?? I really can’t tell half of the time. Not really sure where you stand on stuff except when you get challenged you usually resort to childish and non-responsive answers.

          I don’t know, just my two cents.

          • Mark says:

            GG, there is no need for you to “figure” me out.

            My comment was intended to highlight how far the UWS values have changed: from Yoga (a high-value human endeavor) to Bloomingdale’s Outlet (a lower-value human effort).

            So don’t endeavor to figure me out, just skip my posts. You’ll be doing me a favor.

            • GG says:

              No, I don’t think I will and I was referring to ALL of your posts over the last few months.

              Believe me, I can follow your logic and reasoning…I’m just not sure if you can.:)

              And by the way, get a new name or at least an initial or something instead of just creating confusion. Something you seem to like and thrive on.

          • OriginalMark says:

            Amen GG!

          • Mark says:

            GG, I am sorry to hear that you are confused.

          • Jay says:

            “Mark” is not new around here.

        • Sean says:

          They sell yoga pants there.

      • Sammie@L says:

        World Yoga is still on that block, same side of the street. Personally I think everything on 72nd between WEA and Columbus needs a facelift. Yesterday one of the neighborhood ‘seasonally homeless,’ kids shot out on a skateboard right into the side of a car on the corner in front of Bloomingdales. He was ok but the skateboard was dragged halfway down the block before the driver got out. I think everything is so congested and dirty and rundown that people are walking around in a fog and not taking any pride in the neighborhood. Just an observation.

    9. Randy Jay says:

      Thanks for this great photo memory. What I mostly remember about that NW corner building is the Broadway side – narrow twin theaters that showed art films like “Parting Glances” and “My Beautiful Laundrette” that ran there for months and months. I think it was called the Embassy 72nd Street or something like that.

    10. EricUWS says:

      Since we’re getting all nostalgic, any idea when/if Kossar’s will open a bialy shop on the Upper West Side as they announced in 2015?

    11. Stefanie Steel says:

      oh yes! I remember Oscar’s, and also Stanleonti for stylish men’s clothing!

    12. Susan Kagan says:

      There’s no end to the destruction of favorite old spots on the UWS, replaced by one hi-rise “luxury building” after another. Sad to see.

    13. Sad what’s happened to the Upper West SIde

    14. Paul says:

      The idea that a two story building would occupy the corner of Broadway and 72nd seems quaint by any standard.

      • Mark says:

        Not by my standard.

        But then… I enjoy the sky and breezes and vistas and…

      • B.B. says:

        Which is why the zoning allowed for such a tall building to replace the low two story.

        Face it, a large corner lot that is 201-211 West 72nd Street with a low slung building was not long for the world as it was then.

        If it wasn’t for landmark status that grimy and often gross corner down the block where Sleepy’s/Gray’s Papaya (which sorely could benefit from redevelopment IMHO), would change as well.

    15. Liz says:

      And what about Eclair and Royale? Funny thing though, people were a lot thinner then, notwithstanding these goodies.

    16. Paul says:

      Right across the street was the Famous Dairy Restaurant owned by Max(?)Stein, another one of my favorite places on the now almost completely vanished Upper West Side that existed through the 70s and early 80s. Although I believe I read that some residents were able to save West Side Judaica from going out of business. And Fine & Schapiro’s is still open on 72nd Bway-Columbus (though it was never one of my favorite delis, I always loved the classic middle-aged to elderly waiters and waitresses who always wished they were somewhere else).

    17. Cathy says:

      I used to live at 253 w 72nd (1970-1987) and remember it well. Stephen do you remember the restaurant on the south side of 72nd that was between Amsterdam and Columbus that was managed by Ethan Robbins, the husband of Mart of Peter, Paul & Mary. I’m pretty sure it was Scandinavian. Might have been where the bank is now or where the Turkish restaurant is. Trying hard to find out what it was called. Thanks, Cathy

    18. Sean says:

      Yes its’ all gone to hell in a hand basket.

    19. Bagel says:

      Why oh why, do tell, didn’t FedEx merge with Oscar’s instead of Kinkos?

      I’ll never understand it.

      Humph.

      • GG says:

        Yes, I heard that Amazon was going to acquire Big Nick’s in a hostile takeover.

        When news leaked to the Wall Street Journal all the I-bankers got spooked and abandoned the deal. Good thing too because I was highly exposed on the short side of pizza and burger futures.:)

    20. Christine E says:

      Thank you WSR for adding “noshery” to my vocabulary!

    21. Old Judge says:

      I still miss the All State Cafe (across the street and down the block.)

    22. Steve says:

      Has anyone really looked at that picture?
      The stores may have been great, but the building was a real eyesore.

    23. Honest Abe says:

      From The NYT, August 8, 1976

      “From the Police Blotter:

      Two clerks in Oscar’s Noshery Inc., a delicatessen at 203 West 72d Street, were shot by two holdup men after one of the clerks, Leonard Finer, 52 years old, hit the gunmen with his broom. Both he and the other clerk, Santo Scerho. 30, were treated for leg wounds. The robbers fled with about $400, including $100 taken from two men customers. . . “

    24. Zeus says:

      On the south side was a pizza store, thinking it was called Golden Pizza. $2 got you 2 slices and a coke.
      And….Radio Shack that closed not long ago, after decades there.
      My rent in the early 1970’s, WEA & 70th street, two bedrooms,
      790 SF was – $328. You heard it right.

      • Rodger Lodger says:

        When I started eating pizza it was 15 cents/slice and 10 cents for the inevitable Coke.

    25. Bob Lamm says:

      The Famous Dairy Restaurant was a treasure. I’ll always miss it.

    26. Rodger Lodger says:

      When I was a kid in Brooklyn bagels were 2 or 3 cents and lox was 25 cents for a quarter pound, but I’m not going to rant about that any more than the NY Times for four cents (seemed expensive when it went to a nickel). And the city sold the public a raise in the subway fare by throwing in a free bus transfer, so there.

    27. B.B. says:

      Corner of West 72nd and Broadway (201 West 72nd Street), once had a very large and grand residential hotel; the Hotel Saint Andrew.

      Hotel St. Andrew went up in 1893 (designed by Andrew Craig) as part of the rush to build “residential hotels” all over Manhattan that catered to the wealthy, and get them out of their mansions/brownstones.

      By the 1930’s residential hotel living had gone out of fashion and the St. Andrew was in financial difficulty. The Great Depression probably didn’t help matters either. In any event by 1935 discussions began about selling the property off for redevelopment. In 1938 that is just what happened. Hotel St. Andrew was torn down and replaced by a the two story “tax payer” property show in WSR photo. It originally housed the Embassy movie theater.

      At some point the Embassy closed/vacated and the lower floors were carved up into retail. That is how things stood until the 1990’s when the lot was redeveloped again, this time back into residential housing.

      This happened for the same reasons one mentions all the time in such situations; the zoning allowed for the change, and current structure left a large amount of air rights on the table.

      http://newyorktoursbygary.blogspot.com/2011/08/west-72nd-street.html

      https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-04a4-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99#/?uuid=510d47e2-04a4-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

      http://collections.mcny.org/Collection/Broadway-at-72nd-Street.-Showing-the-Colonial-Club,-St.-Andrews-Hotel,-Rutgers-Presp.-Church-and-the-Ansonia-Apartment-House-24UAKVS39RY.html

      Last bit of West Side real estate trivia.

      At some point before sale/demolition The Hotel St. Andrew was a Morris Schinasi property. His ornate home still stands today on Riverside Drive, the landmarked Schinasi House. It as the widow Schinasi and a daughter who made the call to sell the St. Andrew Hotel property. It was by then held in trust (for one or all the children presumably), and they along with Chemical Bank (managers of the trust) likely wanted to cut losses and realize gains.

      http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2011/08/1909-morris-schinasi-mansion-no-351.html

      https://therealdeal.com/2011/02/04/manhattan-s-last-free-standing-single-family-home-now-11m-off/

      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/nyregion/03mansion.html?mcubz=0

    28. john pressman says:

      In the late 1950s up until 1964, my Dad managed “Caviarteria” on the North Side of 72nd Street just East of Broadway.

    29. drg says:

      Whatever else…some things NEVER change…
      The alternative side of the street parking signs!!
      They may be here for another 100 years!! yay

    30. Teddy says:

      Across the street was also Mrs. J’s Sacred Cow, a steakhouse with young singing waiters and waitresses.

      I remember spending a fun New Year’s Eve in there, with all of us in black tie.

      The biggest losses in the block were, for me, the Royale Bakery and the All State Cafe.

    31. Laurence Addeo says:

      There was also a movie theater on the broadway side.
      And a great on that block was Famous Dairy Restaurant.

    32. Judy says:

      My neighbor Victoria used to manage a restaurant on W 72nd that now houses a Petland shop. Does anyone remember this or have photos of the facade? She tells me she ran it from 1972-92.

      • KL185 says:

        Yes, I remember it — named Nemo’s. Great fish restaurant. Started small in the front space, and then Vicki expanded into the back space. We went there for years — one of the best dishes was sole with a lime beurre blanc sauce.

      • lynn says:

        Do you know the name of the restaurant? There are a lot of photo archives online but it would be easier to search for something if you have more info.

    33. Smithe says:

      It’s called nostalgia and its not unique to the UWS or NYC for that matter!

    34. jhminnyc says:

      I think the restaurant Judy is thinking about Where Petland is now was called Captain Nemo’s and was a great place for a lobster dinner.

    35. B.B. says:

      Found it!

      Vintage image of that corner of 72nd and Broadway from 1970’s showing “Embassy 72dn” movie theater.

      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-h4UXSZEera8/VPAHrcgKQGI/AAAAAAABUBM/QwIsURGWgG4/s1600/New%2BYork%2BCity%2Bin%2Bthe%2B1970s%2B(23).jpg

      If link does not work use this one, but you’ll have to scroll down a bit.

      http://www.vintag.es/2015/02/50-amazing-color-photographs-of-new.html

      Here is another, though now the place is called “Embassy 72nd Twin”:

      http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/7826

    36. Jimbo says:

      Anyone remember Bloom’s Bakery???

    37. Bob says:

      I worked in Oscar’s during the summer of 1975. Oscar’s was owned by a guy named Sam. Sam’s deli, on the south side of 72nd street was owned by a guy named Oscar. They were bitter enemies. True story.