February 16, 2012

The Elk Hotel On 42nd Street Closes After 87 Years

If you walk down 42nd Street today, the sleaze and vice that it was known for has mainly disappeared. But there were still some holdout vestiges of the infamous "Deuce", as it was known 30-odd years ago when it was the center of a seedy world of drugs, porn and prostitution.

One of those remnants was the Elk Hotel, a "hot-sheet" joint which rented by the hour apparently.  Well, as of this week, the Elk is closed. As reported on Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, the Elk posted a closing notice on it's door on Monday.  One of my favorite things about this place was a wonderful vintage Pepsi sign that hung around the corner from its entrance, on 9th avenue.  It looked like it had been there since the 1960s...maybe even the 50s. I often pointed it out to friends when we would walk by and they were always amazed that something like that was still around. Looking down the block with that Pepsi sign, it was like taking a trip on a mini-time machine that dropped you on the set of MIDNIGHT COWBOY.

Now the Elk and it's sign will surely come down and become something more upscale, though no word on what that might be.  But with fancy condos and chain stores (hello 7-11!) crowding the "Deuce" you can be sure it will not be a cheap motel.  And you can also be sure that with its passing, 42nd Street will lose some more of its unique character...not to mention the characters who inhabited this seedy strip back in the day.

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