(New York, N.Y.) The architecturally & culturally significant Cheyenne Diner (411 9th Ave at 33rd St) has been purchased, and will gain a new lease on life when transported to Red Hook, Brooklyn. A contract has been signed between property owner George Papas and its new owner, Mike O’Connell of O’C Construction, son of influential Red Hook developer, Greg O’Connell.
Preservationist Michael Perlman of Queens, who founded the Committee To Save The Moondance Diner in spring 2007, along with fellow Preservationist Kyle Supley of Brooklyn, have spared the Cheyenne Diner from oblivion, after sparing the Moondance last summer. Michael Perlman of the Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner presented a proposal to property owner George Papas (owner of nearby Skylight Diner, 402 W 34th St, & developer for Cheyenne property) on closing day, Sun, Apr 6th, and effectively convinced him to work together. A 9-story condo is slated to rise on premise, which marked the end of the diner’s 68-year run for its Manhattan site.
Perlman states “It is rewarding that the Cheyenne will gain a new lease on life in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and will contribute to the appeal of an up & coming neighborhood. Keeping it within the 5 boroughs, especially in a time when NYC is losing its history, emphasizes how progress can be in the ideal sense. We take pride that Papas was sensitive to our proposal & extend our thanks, and also thank Mike O’Connell for taking on a noble cause. We proudly serve as a liaison from ‘moving day’ to its reopening and future.”
When put up for sale on the 10th of April for $7900, with the necessity of rigging and lot acquisition costs in mind, Committee To Save The Cheyenne received notification from 23 potential buyers, some as far as IN, OH, & WY. While the Cheyenne potentially could have landed a good home out of state, many patrons prayed that a NY-based buyer would reach out, so it can ideally remain closer to its roots than the Moondance Diner in WY. George Papas states “I’m really, really happy the Cheyenne’s not being demolished, and will stay in NY.” In the short-term, a rigger will be enlisted and permits will be secured. In the long-term, O’Connell plans on restoring the diner to its ’40 splendor, and Perlman feels it will be great once he polishes up that gem, so patrons can experience the Cheyenne as it was initially conceived.
The Cheyenne Diner is a highlight in terms of its diverse patronage including celebs i.e. Jerry Lewis & David Letterman, & since it’s the last streamlined railway car-inspired diner in Mid-Manhattan, & a scarcity borough-wide. It was pre-assembled by Paramount in 1940, and known as the Market Diner through ’86 after the popular chain. It retains a majority of its original &/or distinctive elements. The streamlined façade features vertical and horizontal stainless steel securing bowed colorful enamel panels, wrap-around windows, a curved entryway with glass block, & a reverse channel illuminated neon sign. The interior features a streamlined barrel roof, counter & stools, & Indian tribal coins. The Cheyenne was recently granted 1st prize on NYC-Architecture.com’s “Top 10 NY Diners/Restaurants. Spiros Kasimis was the 18-year Cheyenne tenant.
Perlman explains: “Diners are amongst the ‘ultimate public institutions’ which harbor countless memories and bridge the generations. During the 30’s – 60’s eras, freestanding diners numerously dotted NYC’s 5 boroughs, and brought together individuals of various occupations in a cozy & striking ambiance. Today, they are becoming an endangered species at an alarming rate, and their loss is often most heartfelt. It is essential to preserve & reuse all remaining classic freestanding diners.”
NYC Diner Preservation Record
– Sam Chinita housed in freestanding diner (8th Ave & 19th St), demolished 2000
– River Diner (11th Ave & 37th St), demolished Mar 2004
– Lunchbox Diner (357 West St), restored in 2002, but closed & remains abandoned
– Munson Diner (11th Ave & 49th St) transported to the Catskills in 2005
– Moondance Diner (80 6th Ave) transported to LaBarge, WY in Aug 2007 & reopens in June 2008
– Staten Island’s Victory Diner transported in Aug 2007 to SI’s Midland Beach Promenade & reopens in 2009
– Some icons holding onto their own: NYC’s Empire Diner (10th Ave & 22nd St), jet-age Market Diner (11th Ave & 43rd St) reopens this June, Air Line Diner/currently Jackson Hole (Astoria Blvd & 70th St), Square Diner (33 Leonard St near Varick St & W Broadway).
Cheyenne Diner May 2007 day scenes, Courtesy of Preservationist Michael Perlman:
Cheyenne Diner night scenes & memorabilia, courtesy of Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah’s Vanishing NY (http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/)
’83 Cheyenne as Market Diner, courtesy of roadside photographer Larry Cultrera of Society for Commercial Archeology & Diner Hotline (http://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/about/):
Dec ’79 Cheyenne as Market Diner, serigraph courtesy of photorealist John Baeder (www.johnbaeder.com):
1941 photo (pan & zoom 3rd in sequence), courtesy of NYPL:
Michael Perlman, Founder & Preservationist
Committee To Save The Moondance Diner Founder