Throwback Thursday: Learn Some History Before the Wrecking Ball Swings

The southeast corner of Broadway and 85th Street is being readied for demolition, the latest two-story building on the avenue to face the wrecking ball. Michael Tempel took the photo below in December 2018 after the bank and Price Wise Discount vacated. Workers are now doing asbestos abatement that could last until next year before demolition begins, Tempel says.

He also took two photos of the site decades ago, showing what used to be there.

The first one is from August 1983.

Click to enlarge.

Tempel explained what’s in the photo. “There’s a small luncheonette at the corner and Szechuan Taste which was a pretty good restaurant, midblock. In between is Morris Brothers, a clothing store that had been on the Upper West Side for decades. At first glance the signs in the window look like an all-too-common going out of business notice. But look closer. What’s happening is that the store is moving to the other end of the block at 84th Street, to the space currently occupied by Game Stop and Books of Wonder. Morris Brothers eventually did close some years after that move…I don’t remember exactly when.”

The next one is from February 1985.

Click to enlarge.

“The renovation in progress when this photo was taken created Ancora, an Italian restaurant. The structure on the roof that you see in the photo from last December was under construction then. It had windows on both sides, and the section of roof below it was removed so it formed a skylight above the second floor dining area below. The restaurant featured a wood-burning pizza oven on the first floor with its chimney extending up through the roof. There was a large street clock out front similar to one in Madison Square and the name Ancora was embedded in the sidewalk in brass letters.

Ancora was replaced by a Mexican restaurant. Eventually the corner was bankified and Price Wise moved into the rest of the space.

You can also see in this photo that a Love Discount store appears to have replaced the Szechuan restaurant. Actaully, the restaurant we see in the 1983 photo was divided in half with the discount store occupying one side, and the restaurant the other (to the right and not visible in this 1985 photo). The restaurant became Szechuan Broadway and remained for many years…not sure when it eventually closed.”

Do you remember those businesses? Let us know in the comments!

See other Throwback Thursday posts here.

HISTORY | 52 comments | permalink
    1. StevenCinNYC says:

      This is great. I grew up shopping at Morris Bros and ate at Ancora.

      You left out Time Cafe (and its mini Fez upstairs) which was great and there for years, too, right after Ancora. They didn’t have a performance space like the downtown Fez under the original Time Cafe, but there was a nice Moroccan space upstairs at this location. Incidentally, there was briefly a third Time Cafe on 7th Ave that had a nice roof deck. That space became Sushi Samba.

    2. Marianne Mangan says:

      Ancora was not replaced by a Mexican restaurant. It was replaced by the much-loved, much-missed Italian restaurant Patzo’s, which occupied the corner from approximately mid-eighties to mid-nineties. Then came the Time Cafe, THEN the bankification. All down hill.

    3. Catherine Holmes says:

      Yes I remember all of them. I shopped for years in Morris Bros in both locations. Orderedtake outfrom Szechuan restaurant until it closed. Thanks for capturing thosr memories

    4. Catherine Holmes says:

      It was also another Italian restaurant called Patzo
      It had a giant neon fork w spaghetti wrapped around it

    5. Ferd Fensger says:

      There was a bowling alley on the top floor. Sterling Lanes. Don’t recall the year it closed

      • Martin says:

        Fred’s right. Sterling bowling alley was a great place where everybody, and I mean everybody, used to hang out in the 1960s (maybe into the 70s too–I can’t remember). It was overseen by a tall, lanky guy named Bob who, when he bowled, could throw the ball down the alley like a rocket. Great memories. I think I spent a significant portion of my teenage years in the place.

    6. Adena says:

      I think Morris Brothers closed around 1993 or 1994.

      • Jessica Sabat says:

        Morris Brothers lasted in its new location north of 84th until at least 2006 or 2007. Used to pass it several times a day when my kids were attending school on 84th

        I remember Patzo’s fondly. That’s where I had dinner on with my now husband on our very first date in 1986. We both had pasta with abundant garlic!

    7. Chip says:

      Oh wow! Bridie’s Luncheonette at the corner of 85th & B’way. The greatest hot dogs… and lots of imitation orange plants hanging from the ceiling! Anyone else remember?

      • Ida Marx says:

        Yes! I remember getting Papaya drink at Bridies. I also remember big pretzel rods from a jar. I even remember what the man and woman behind the counter looked like! Amazing memories. As a kids, my siblings and I were often stopping there or also at Woolworths, a few blocks down on Broadway.

    8. Paul Getzels says:

      I remember Morris Brothers, Official Camp Outfitters! A lot of my clothing was purchased there from roughly 1974 through 1981.

    9. Michael Cherry says:

      I do remember and thank you for posting these!

    10. NYCnat says:

      Not the Michael Tempel who taught at PS 75 in the 1970s? If so, here’s a wave from a grateful former student. (Long live Main Street! And Schmoos.)

    11. Rachel says:

      Morris Brothers definitely was around until at least ‘98, but I actually think a little later. I remember going there all the time, it felt a bit like a sportier, better priced version of Lester’s for kid and teen clothes.

    12. SamKinCalifornia says:

      I was born in 1953 and grew up in 470 West End Ave. at 83rd Street. For all of my childhood there was a bowling alley on the second floor of this building which we used to go to in after school groups and on the weekend’s when we weren’t getting into trouble throwing candy from the balcony at the matrons at the old Loews 83rd Street. It was only 1O lanes, a tiny little place. One day, around 1965 when I was 12, there was a tremendous fire that took out the entire building. We watched it burn until it got dark and had to come home for dinner. There was a cafeteria style restaurant on the first floor where the Chinese restaurant was in one of the photos. Shortly after the fire, the building was rebuilt along with the bowling alley, which to my recollection stayed in business well into the 1980’s. After the fire a sporting goods store opened where the cafeteria used to be.

    13. amy says:

      the luncheonette was Bridies, it was wonderful. Minnie cooked grits. Morris Brothers took over the space formerly occupied by Marcel de Paris, Liberty House ( that moved across to 88 street) and World of Health on 84 street.

    14. Robyn says:

      Loved Morris Brothers. It was the go to place for camp outfits as well as jeans and everyday wear. Then I would take my kids there as well. It was family run and everyone knew you.

    15. Diane Drey says:

      I bought my kids summer camp clothes at Morris…they sewed in name tags as I recall so the camp knew whose clothes they were… do camps still use name tags?

    16. Arlene Seffern says:

      The luncheonette on the corner was called Bridies,

    17. Janet Wasserman says:

      I moved to the UWS in 1978. Morris Brothers was a great place to shop and the prices were reasonable. I haven’t thought about it until your article and photos. I recall the first Morris Bros location was a shambles inside. The second location was a bit more modernized. It was sort of Lower East Side meets Upper West Side. Thanks for the memory.

      • Judie Patel says:

        The first location of Morris Brothers was the second location. They used to be up on 103rd(?) Street.

        • Iris Agar says:

          Morris Brother original location was Broadway & 98th Street. My mother was addicted to MB.
          Does anyone here remember Schwartzie’s/Ranger Day Camp???

    18. AC says:

      by mid 1980’s Patzo’s had become Time Café, then South of Time Café was Benetton; South of Benetton was Samantha Love Store; Szechuan Restaurant (Above on second floor was the Annex) , , , fun memories!

    19. manhattan mark says:

      I overheard a conversation onBroadway and 84th street years ago. A girl about 12 years old talking to her mother asked her why when she goes shopping she goes to Bloomingdale’s andwhen you take me shopping we go to Morris Brothers. the
      mother explains that she is training her for Bloomingdale’s

    20. Bart Ziegler says:

      So what will replace this building? The article is silent on this.

    21. NYYgirl says:

      Wonderful photos, Mr. Tempel, thank you!!!! And omg, this word “bankified”!! Wow! To Manhattan Mark, love your overheard story 🙂

    22. Scott says:

      Morris Brothers! Where every UWS kid got his labels for camp! Fond memories.

    23. Kathleen Lavery says:

      Wow! This is amazing – thank you West Side Rag and Michael for these pictures.

      Bridie’s luncheonette was owned and run by my grandmother Rosaleen and her twin sister Bridie.

      Rosaleen and Bridie who were born in 1912. The twins emigrated from Ireland in 1929 as teenagers. They had family on the Upper West Side. One of their older sisters name Kitty, and her husband Hugh owned Uncle Hugh’s Grocery Store on Amsterdam between 83rd and 84th street. Around ~1959 Bridie and Rosie opened Bridie’s Luncheonette on the south east corner of 85th and Broadway. We think it was open for 25+ years. My mother worked there during her summers in high school in the 1960s, and helped contribute details to this reply.

      It was a breakfast and lunch place that had high foot traffic. It was a place where you could be unknown or a part of a conversation. The windows opened to the street, customers sat at the counter and talked to each other. The men who worked at a below ground super market (83rd St?) and the Floorshine Shoes came for lunch. Woody Allen came for breakfast and the singer Janice Ian came for lunch.

      They served a different hot lunch every day. Rosaleen (some called her Rosie) made chili and pot roast and Minnie was the cook who made grits. They always had Sabrett hot dogs. There were 2 luncheonettes owned by Bridie and Rosaleen – one in the middle of the block. We have heard many stories of their kindness towards neighbors, fellow shop owners, and customers – one customer has been a friend for life and we share Thanksgiving with Leonia to this day. Leonia was thrilled by this article.

      Throughout my life have loved hearing family stories and details of the wonderful UWS neighbors, but I had never seen a picture of it. I moved to NYC and happened to land on 85th street before I realized the proximity & family history. This post has sparked and unlocked a new conversation with my family history. How wonderful the Upper West Side is – I still live here and continue our family story.

    24. MQue says:

      My family and I use to eat at Szechuan Taste on the regular. I remember my father sneaking me sips of his mai tai all the time. They had incredible food.

    25. Ruskin Caine says:

      Morris Bros was a well known institution for every kid that grew up in the neighborhood.

      My mother would drop me off in the 70’s with a lovely store employee named Carmen and come back an hour later. Years later i went back with my niece and not only was Carmen still working, she remembered me!

      Fond memories!

    26. Thomas Erb says:

      Any photos of the clock – I doubt it was the same as the 5th Avenue Street clock as that clock I believe was a one of a kind.

    27. Melody M. says:

      Does anyone remember the name of the Mexican restaurant that existed at this location after the shops that are depicted vacated? It did not last that long (maybe a year or two) but it was quite an extensive and nicely done construction as I recall. I think that it was named for the owner’s family member (maybe mother?). It definitely preceded Ancora, Patzo, Time Cafe…as Mr. T wrote.

    28. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      this is such such great history and makes me so miss the old UWS… where immigrants Rosaleen and Bridie could open a successful luncheonette.

    29. Bart Ziegler says:

      What will be built on that site?

    30. ROLANDO HERRERA says:

      Years ago, in the 60’s and early 70’s, there used to be a bowling alley on the second floor where the Wrangler sign is located. I cannot remember the name at this moment, but my friends and I spent many Friday evenings bowling there when we were growing up.

    31. PeTer Van Derick says:

      I moved into the Bretton Hall in ’93, and look out my window at this corner. I remember Ancora, Patzo and Time Cafe. I also lunched at the Szuchuan Restaurant a lot. I thought the closing of Time Cafe hurt the ‘hood the most.

    32. MJ says:

      Morris Bros was open till at least 2007 in its new location…They became a bit trendier, not just a camp outfitter, but a spot for UWS kids till they decided to close.

    33. Len Charney says:

      I recall that during the late 90s or maybe the early 200o the TIME CAFE was on the main floor and above it was a club called FEZ. The restaurant and Club was originally in the Village and then relocated to 85th and Broadway. I think TIME CAFE immediately preceded a Bank.

    34. SusieQ says:

      Time Cafe / Fez had a fun bar on the second floor there for a while in the 90s. Maybe our new public advoate will help make the neighborhood affordable for small businesses again. A girl can dream.