Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Mayfair Hotel

February 1989

September 2007

This first shot shows the beginnings of the rehab of the Mayfair Hotel on west 49th Street, next to the Eugene ONeill Theater, a scene I happened to catch while walking by that day. I'd never passed the place before, and never did again until this summer, when I went looking for it. I don't know what kind of hotel it was in the eighties, but it looks grungy enough to have been an SRO.

What makes the first picture for me is having caught the workers just as they were peeling off the sign; a second shot a moment later, after the lettered strip of metal has been tossed into the Dumpster, hasn't got the same impact. The sign is also the only clue I had for the location of this scene. I suppose I'm fortunate that the name of the place never changed, which made Googling it more fruitful.

But here it is, a small Times Square hotel, eighteen years later, its facade cleaned but starting to get a bit dingy again. The first floor has lost the horrible 1960's style storefront and barbershop, and the neon sign perpendicular to the building is also gone, which, no doubt, also removed whatever ambiance it lent to the room it was outside of. I personally think the landmarks preservation people should have insisted that at least a few Times Square hotels maintain rooms with blinking neon signs outside the windows. And ledges. Not enough hotel rooms or office buildings have ledges anymore in New York. There's a halfway-decent ledge outside the third-floor windows here at the Mayfair, but being a skinny, mid-block building, there's really no place to go on it. But it's the thought that counts.

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