Crazy Fantasy

Stumbled upon some local history during a rabbit hole of link following which started at a dissection of the neon signs in Google’s New York office.

There are two of these signs; each is unique and spells the word “Google” in lettering emulating famous New York signs from the past and present. It seems that the right-most “g” in the sign pictured above is modeled on a restaurant formerly located at the corner of West 4th Street and Sixth Avenue known as “Groceria”.

If you know this corner then you probably also know that the stretch running along Sixth Avenue from West 4th Street down to Bleecker Street is something of an anomaly in the leafy West Village: the best description I encountered is that’s

a little piece of old Times Square, hearkening back to a delightfully crummy cacophony of sex shops, tattoo parlors, and hot dog stands

Papaya Dog, Fantasy Tattoo, Fantasy Parties, and – until recently – Crazy Fantasy rest incongruously at the foot of the 333 Sixth Avenue, an elegant Flatiron-like structure straddling West 4th Street, Sixth Avenue and Cornelia Street.

It seems that Groceria formerly occupied all of this space; a bright sun-lit Italian trattoria sporting elegant brass fixtures and frequented by celebrities such Frank Sinatra, Eli Wallach, and Nancy Walker. With its espresso machine and supermarket-like offerings it sounds like it was well ahead of its time and would thrive in today’s West Village.

Now, it seems the new owner of 333 Sixth Avenue is attempting to remodel the block by buying out the current tenants, Crazy Fantasy being just the first to go. Will they attract another neighbourhood asset like Groceria? As Vanishing City notes, it’s more likely we’ll get another frozen yoghurt option.

I’m just struck by how the redevelopment of the undesirable seedy block around the corner from my apartment may be what causes my own rent to rise to the point where I’m forced out of the wider neighbourhood altogether. Careful what you wish for!