McDonald’s Said to Be Closing

A staffer at the McDonald’s at the corner of Broadway and Thomas told a reader that the restaurant is closing by November 29. (I went over to confirm it, but the line didn’t move after five minutes, and a man started yelling about his hotcakes, so I pulled the ripcord.) There’s no word about what will happen to the space, or even the building. One hesitates to pray for demolition, but that building is a blight, especially compared to what used to stand there—a twin to the beauty across Thomas. (Photo from circa 1940 courtesy the Municipal Archives.)



  1. This photo shows the twins together, with the location of the then-unbuilt Long Lines tower in the background.

    “Broadway and Thomas Street, Manhattan.” 1936, by Berenice Abbott

  2. What a shocking difference! Why was that beautiful building demolished?

  3. ”A few blocks uptown, at Thomas Street, two identical cast-iron buildings once stood at the north and south corners. Thomas Street itself was once the property of New York Hospital; entry gates flanked the driveway on what is now the roadbed. The corners were built simultaneously in 1870 and designed by David and John Jardine.

    ”The northerly building, 319 Broadway, was in the 1880s occupied by the Louisiana Lottery Company. It operated openly, infuriating Anthony Comstock, the founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. He sent decoy letters from out of town asking for tickets that were duly honored — even though he signed them with names like ‘U. Arcaute.’

    ”In his 1883 book ‘Traps for the Young,’ Comstock said that although the police dutifully kept order in the ticket line, it took him awhile to secure an arrest. He said he spoke for ‘the women and children that are beggared and starving because of this gambling scheme.’ The company eventually went out of business.

    “In 1929 the real estate broker Charles F. Noyes announced plans to build a 150-story building on the two blocks spanning Thomas Street; that was in early October 1929, a few weeks before the stock-market crash.

    “The two cast-iron structures came to be called the Thomas Twins, and attracted early attention from Margot Gayle, the cast-iron advocate. In 1966 both buildings were considered for landmark status. The owners protested that keeping the buildings would lower the property value, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission backed off.

    “No. 317 was demolished in 1971, but 319 survived to be receive landmark designation in 1989.”

    NY Times: “Streetscapes — Broadway Ironclads and Built to Last”

    • That said, a Court disagreed with the Times about the circumstances when the owner of 319 fought LPC designation:

      179 A.D.2d 406 (1992)
      In the Matter of Doro’s Restaurant, Inc., Appellant, v. City of New York et al., Respondents
      Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, First Department.
      January 14, 1992

      The subject building is located at 319 Broadway […] The challenge to designation is based on the fact that in 1971, the Landmarks Preservation Commission declined to so designate the adjacent “twin” at 317 Broadway, which was subsequently demolished.

      […] Respondent notes that the relatively dilapidated condition of 317 Broadway was a significant circumstance which contributed to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision not to designate that building.

      Subsequent to that determination, a historical and architectural study was issued on the Soho Cast Iron District, which focused, in part, on the surviving Thomas Twin at 319 Broadway. Prior to that time no findings had been made as to the existence or nonexistence of architectural or historical attributes of 319 Broadway. Subsequent to the study, during the 1970’s, momentum began to build to designate 319 Broadway as one of the few surviving examples of a unique architecture which relied on cast iron elements. The present owner of 319 Broadway purchased the building in 1982, undertook extensive renovations, and commenced […] the present restaurant business which occupies the premises. There is no credible evidence that 319 Broadway, if designated, would lack economic value.

      When the Landmarks Preservation Commission met in Executive Session on August 29, 1989, it noted that the decision not to designate 317 Broadway was based on its physical condition. It also was noted that no prior findings had been made with respect to 319 Broadway. The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously in favor of designating 319 Broadway. […]

      Nor, under the circumstances of this case, is there any merit in comparing nondesignation of 317 Broadway, which rested on wholly economic considerations, with the later designation of 319 Broadway, which relied upon the appropriate historical, architectural, and aesthetic attributes of that specific property. […]

      • Thank you for the very (very!) thorough research and reply. Well, at least one was saved for our (and hopefully that of future generations) current aesthetic appreciation.

  4. Wow… it’s like mourning Penn Station all over again. As for the MacDonald’s building – KILL IT WITH FIRE! Then please, hire a decent architect and building something to (slightly) ease the pain of this (yet another) vicious act of vandalism in our neighborhood.