Bye Bye Schrafft’s: Losing More Unique Buildings on the UES

Schrafft’s at 155 E. 79th Street as it appeared in 1944. Photo: Lost City.

A “Rat Poison” sign appeared on the front door of 155 East 79th street. Generally, that’s the sign that indicates death is close at hand. Obviously the rats are going to kick it. But it’s the building that is coming down next. Certainly, we were in a historic preservation district, next to Lexington Ave, right? And this building, a former Schrafft’s Restaurant with a marble facade, was iconic enough to spare replacement by the glass and fiberboard dreck going in further down the block, right? (charmless 200 E. 79th Street, apartments starting at $2.8M).

Nope.

The building disappeared under the hands of coffee-sipping, cig-smoking, and hard-hat wearing demolition crew. Read this Streetscapes feature from the New York Times on disappearing Schrafft’s buildings from 2008. Now we await the arrival of yet another glass box, with a bank in the bottom. I don’t know about you, but I can’t eat money, especially in this electronic age.

A page from the 1917 Schrafft's Menu. New York Public Library What's on the Menu? Project.

A page from the 1917 Schrafft’s Menu. New York Public Library What’s on the Menu? Project.

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.