New York Daily Photo Analytics

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shrine to Beef

In reviewing my photo archives, I came across a series of images that astounds me now as much as the day I took them. Why astounded? Because in Manhattan, the last thing I ever imagined was a place that for all intents and purposes looks like a shrine to beef (see photos inside here). Even the outdoor signage and name seemed like it belonged in Texas or Michigan. I never posted the photos because at the time I found them too rough and was looking to a future opportunity to photograph the store in a more flattering light. In retrospect, a silly consideration, after all this is the reality of the place and its environment. It would be difficult to photograph this place in a way that exudes bucolic charm or is more polished.
Perhaps I have lived too insular an existence, but New York City, particularly Manhattan, always seemed to be a city of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. Of course I know that meat is eaten here - virtually every menu in the city has meat. But a store like this seems so out of place. We do have a gun shop (see here) or shooting ranges like that in the private club Tiro A Segno, but this is not the place where many mingle with members of the National Rifle Association.
Western Beef has 21 stores in the five boroughs. This places sells all types of meat along with many other grocery items. Since the time this photo was taken (2006), the store has moved from 403a West 14th street shown in the photo in the meat packing district to 16th street. According to their website, "Western Beef, Inc. establishes supermarkets primarily in inner-city neighborhoods abandoned by many other supermarket chains." This was certainly true of the area at one time - on a stroll through the meatpacking district one would see trucks, sides of beef hanging from hooks, entrails being packed into drums and prostitutes at night. The area was defined by beef at every business level - wholesalers, distributors, retailers and restaurants like Old Homestead.
However, now the area is très chic with fashion boutiques, hotels, the Diane von Furstenbrug complex and a new Apple Store. As the meat packing district becomes completely gentrified, perhaps we should consider opening a museum to preserve the history of the area, perhaps calling it Shrine to Beef :)

Related Posts: Roof Gem, Meatup, Old Homestead, Pastis, Secret Society, Gun Shop.

4 comments:

Thérèse said...

So interesting, as always...

Birdman said...

A city seen through its signage... always a different look. Interesting as Hell, everyday!

Sterl the Pearl's Daily Pics of Boulder said...

I remember a cab dropping me off in front of this one night about 12 yrs ago. The streets were filled with Ladies of the Night vs Stella McCartney. And Florent just down the way is always good for a late night chow. My mom buys her beef and pork cuts at this place. Classic.

naomid said...

Oh My Gosh! This is the best place to go shopping for the super bowl!