SYLVAIN SYLVAIN once a member of the notorious NEW YORK DOLLS had a song “14th Street” recorded with his post-Dolls band THE CRIMINALS. If memory serves me that very tune was played by THE DOLLS during their last breaths of fame, along with the Gamble/Huff song “There’s Gonna Be A Showdown” which has a reference to 14th Street, maybe not our’s but maybe, yes. Fourteenth Street runs across the borough from the East Side to the West Side and is considered the demarcation point separating lower Manhattan from mid-town Manhattan. This may not mean much to some but at one point most “hipsters” would never considering having any thing to do with things happening much further north of 14th.
The area around 14th is a trip, a history lesson unto itself. I’ll start with the make up of the area: all streets north of 14th are in traditional “grid” formation, avenues running north/south, streets east/west while south of 14th, well, not so much. “Fourteenth” borders in some form or fashion the East Village, The West Village, Chelsea, Alphabet City, Gramercy and is a major hub for subways and PATH trains.
Over the years I had many opportunities to enjoy the outdoor markets, hawkers, vendors, bars, restaurants and venues surrounding 14th Street, many times being over served by the bar staff. One of my all time favorite haunts was the original ENRICO and PAGLIERE’S at 64 West 11th Street off of Sixth Avenue, with its wrought iron basement entrance connecting three beautiful brownstones.Compared to 14th, 11th was quiet and pristine, a residential area. By the time I attended “EandP’s” it was part of a Longchamp’s chain but I had to go after being told every night at about 11 PM by John ZACHERLE on WNEW-FM it was thee place for “good Italian food with all your can drink wine and beer”. What more does a young man need? All you can drink, I’m in. For those who care there is a sad story about the longtime hostess Mrs. Josephine Pagliere who died at age 95. Check it out at NYT:2/7/76.
GLANCY’S, a corner pub on 14th, across from the Academy of Music/Palladium was another haunt that over served the under served masses. I learned early on “in a crowded bar, tip the bar keep immediately with a nice chunk of change” and you will never need to search for him or him for you. GLANCY’S was one such place. The EMERALD INN around the corner was usually not so crowded but was frequented by the “men in blue” while off duty, many times while still in uniform.
There was TAD’S STEAK HOUSE, a cheap, cafeteria style (red trays) eating hall. Did I say cheap? Mushrooms and onions are additional charges, and dessert is yummy green jello. This was a wondrous spot where you stood in line while your steak is being either lightly touched to the huge flames in front of you or being burned beyond recognition, your choice. Not a place to impress a date.
LUCHOW’S German Restaurant was at 110 East 14th. It was the place to go if you had a date you wanted to impress. This is not the place to go if you were heading to see THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND with a few guys. LUCHOW’S food was incredible. For the ALLMAN BROTHERS crowd, have some fun over at HORN and HARDART where you are entertained by watching stoned out hippies trying to get food/drink out of the vending machines.
For pre-show/post show fun there was JULIAN’S POOL HALL’s staircase entrance to the left of the ACADEMY/PALLADIUM. Bring plenty of expendable cash to lose to all the hustlers awaiting fresh meat or to hawk some heavy drugs.
UNION SQUARE has a long distinguished history but to us it was the standard meeting place, the place to gather, to meet up, to have a smoke before dinner and a show. Most subways and a PATH train stopped at the Union Square station so its locale was of great importance Contrary to popular belief, even though UNION SQUARE was the site of the first LABOR DAY PARADE (1882), UNION SQUARE was not named for its ties to union activity but rather it was named as the “union of Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) and Eastern Post Road (now extinct)”. Surrounding THE SQUARE was S. KLEIN’S DEPARTMENT STORE, to the north was ANDY WARHOL’S “The Factory” (The Decker Building) which later relocated to 860 Broadway at Union.
IRVING (Washington Irving) PLAZA was around the corner, and directly across from Union Square on Park Avenue South was MAX’S KANSAS CITY where I would religiously stop by for a few cocktails and regularly for some entertainment, either in the bar watching the weirdos or upstairs at the showcase to see my beloved HEARTBREAKERS.
Lastly, there was the ACADEMY OF MUSIC, later THE PALLADIUM. We saw many bands there. It wasn’t FILLMORE EAST but it would do for major bands coming into town for a few years.
THERE’S GONNA BE A SHOWDOWN (Gamble/Huff)
Say man, they tell me you think you’re pretty good
Don’t you know you’re in my neighborhood
They tell me you’re pretty fast on your feet
You best be at the dance hall down on 14th street, you hear