Before and After Pictures of NY Storefronts Document a Decade of Gentrification


In a city like New York, buildings and their façades can change seemingly overnight. So, what happens to the face of “the city that never sleeps” over the course of a decade? If we take the work of James and Karla Murray as an example, the answer is: a lot.

Ten years after photographing a plethora of New York buildings and storefronts in their book, Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York, the duo have gone back to the same locations where many of these storefronts once stood and photographed them again. To say some of the changes are stark would be quite the understatement.


CBGB, The Bowery at E. 1st St., East Village

While some of the storefronts have stayed fairly similar, others have taken a completely different route. Small family-run shops turned into corporate buildings, homes into banks and so on.

Even more dramatic are the storefronts that have disappeared entirely, leaving behind nothing more than open space just asking to be picked up at the ungodly rates they are no doubt going for.


2nd Avenue Deli,2nd Avenue at East 10th Street, East Village

Meant, in part, to be a census of sorts for the gentrification of New York City, the collection is also there to honor the storefronts and business still operating as they were a decade ago. As James and Karla told the Huffington Post:

We hope this glimpse will bring awareness to the unique character these small mom-and-pop businesses add to the streets and neighborhoods of New York City and the sense of community they provide. These storefronts have the city’s history etched into their façades.


Bleecker Street at Carmine Street, Greenwich Village

Mars Bar, corner of 2nd Ave. and E 1st St. East Village

Mars Bar, corner of 2nd Ave. and E 1st St. East Village


Gertel’s Bakery, Essex St. at Hester St., Lower East Side


Claudio’s Barber Shop, First Ave. and E. 116th St., Harlem

It’s an interesting look at what time and money — both the abundance and lack there of — can do to the face of one of the most unique metropolises in the world. To see more from this project, as well as the other work by the Murray’s, be sure to visit their website or give their Facebook a like.

(via Atlantic Cities via Gizmodo)

Image credits: Photographs by James and Karla Murray and used with permission

  • Heath Collins

    I like the before shots better. :(

  • Stan B.

    Gentrification, Homogenization, Disneyfication… call it what you will, NYC is sadly coming to look more and more just like what everything else looks, like everywhere else. The proliferation of chain stores and franchises now run rampant like an overwrought scar, robbing it of much of its originality and uniqueness. It’s turning into one giant, outdoor shopping mall- uptown to downtown, west side to east. Gone are the particular excentricities and peculiarities that defined and highlighted various, distinct neighborhoods all the way to the outer boroughs Yuppification started in the mid eighties and blossomed full force under Bloomberg. The few, once quiet bordering neighborhoods are now stuffed with modern high rises housing the newly monied with their Starbucks conveniently located on the first floor.

    I’m just just happy I got to live and experience it for what it once was- beat up maybe, but very much its own…

  • Adam Cross

    gentrification – or as I like to call it, making your city looks slightly less like a complete sh*t hole

  • Richard Lurie

    The 2nd Ave Deli turning into a Chase Bank makes me so angry. I was working around the corner when that happened. There’s a small plaque on the sidewalk commemorating the deli.

  • superduckz

    I’m not even a new Yorker but these are some of the saddest photographs I ever seen.

  • Eric

    When is Detroit going to go through gentrification?

  • Stan B.

    Call it what you will- it’s about money replacing people, corporations replacing character, a showplace replacing a home.

  • beautox

    OMG. Cities change. Shock horror.

  • Steven

    Only one of those pictures shows a corporation taking a spot, and it’s highly unlikely because they forced out whoever was there

  • Steven

    Welcome to globalization and the 21st century.

  • Stan B.

    WOW! Can’t argue with stats like those (not to mention a conjecture thrown in for good measure)!!! That’s about as thorough and exhausting a cross section and analysis of an entire populace that I’ve ever come across!!!

    Seriously, you are going to pick one of four pictures to prove exactly what (other than your complete ignorance of statistics, real estate, corporations and reality)?

  • Nthis

    Welcome to the world that modern “liberalism” looks to bring us all. It’s happening nationwide, at varying levels, from big cities to small, rural towns. We’re being sold a dystopia where cultural vacuums are the norm. Globalization does play a big part of it.

  • Maree Cardinale

    I liked most of the old pics more. They have more character.

  • zzz

    To people complaining about globalization, I’d suggest reading a book on macroeconomics. Especially the chapters on global development and free trade. :)

  • dfgvdfsgsd


  • GW

    It is hard to tell which is the old and which is the new.

  • Stan B.

    When Whites lose their fear of uhhh… you know…

  • Kynikos

    I prefer the slummy pics — as long as, you know, I don’t have to live there.

  • Stan B.

    Yes, preferably one by Milton Friedman or Alan Greenspan extolling the virtues and wonders of the free market system running unfettered- so they can find out what a crock it is and why we’re in the mess we’re in…

  • David Vaughn

    The same thing is happening in Austin, TX. The “weird” culture that gave Austin its personality is slowly fading as the population balloons. People are moving in and wanting the surrounding culture to adapt to them instead of vice versa, so in the end the entire culture just becomes a homogeny of sameness.
    It hasn’t gotten to that point yet, but there has been a definite shift in the past 20 years. It’s disparaging.

  • Guest


  • kikojones

    Liberalism? Aren’t conservatives the ones who extoll the virtues of a free market without regard to landmark structures in an effort to fatten up a bottom line?

    Btw, as long as commercial renters have no protection from landlords jacking up rents from, say, $5,000 to $50,000 once their leases are up, expect a further entrenched Bank of America/Duane Reade/Starbucks landscape.

  • Nthis

    Not any of the conservatives i know are like that…they’re more about conserving local history and it’s culture.

  • superduckz

    Please direct me to a single segment of the economy that is “unfettered”?

  • Stan B.

    Ever hear of the repeal of The Glass-Steagall Act?

  • kikojones

    I don’t know your friends–and who knows, they might even enjoy and support PBS–but generally speaking, if there’s a profit to be made, conservatives are all for it.

  • Knuckles Mutatis

    It’s not just NYC. Everyone who follows this stuff knows cities everywhere are becoming the new replacement to suburbs/exurbs for moneyed yuppies.

    In some places it has been going on for a long time, but it really accelerated nationally since about 10 years ago, when news that the 70+ year national suburban flow had officially reversed with those under 30. Since then, cities have been the places to be, which has driven up demand, forcing prices higher, bringing hipsters, and then the droves of yuppies who must always follow…at that point, the prices become so high that it kills off underground music clubs, cutting-edge Art locales, mom & pop deli’s, and so on, to the point where the only businesses who can afford to be in such places are national mega-chain stores…which is slowly transforming cities into little more than glorified super-concentrated suburbs.

    The great irony is suburbs are rapidly becoming new centers of poverty…something almost nobody imagined happening 40 years ago.

  • Stan B.

    You mean all those good ol’ boys waving Confederate flags?

  • Nthis

    I’ve never met a conservative who waves a confederate flag. If anything, those type of people tend to moral-less trailer trash who are nowhere near conservative.

  • Nthis

    Actually, i wouldn’t consider my friends to be conservative. If anything, they’re right-libertarian. Also, there’s a difference between greed and destroying history and profit making. Obviously, there are a lot of people that confuse the two as much as they confuse ‘conservative’ with other social and political views.

  • Stan B.

    Translation: We just bring ‘em out for the dirty work- not that we’d ever be seen with such likes…

  • The Seasoned Avenger

    Cute. Harken for the good ol’ days back in the old country, do you still?
    Anti-capitalist and anti-free market is so tired and cliched. Reality has debunked your worn-out “theories” and indoctrinated ideologies, haven’t you heard? Freedom won.

  • Stan B.

    Ah yes, the Libertarians- they have FREEDOM coursing through their veins, why it’s even in their very name (ie- Conservatives who smoke pot).

  • Stan B.

    You need to update your photos with the unemployed and working poor in this country, in this decade.

    Your “reality” is a tad time worn.

  • Nthis

    Apparently, you’re not all that aware of your ignorance. Do you even understand what you’re commenting on? I don’t think you do. Looks like you’re just the argumentative type no matter what the subject is. How sad…

  • Stan B.

    Yes, it’s a sad world indeed, particularly when you have people who conflate issues and definitions, who espouse one philosophy while playing to another, who accuse people of ignorance while their cohorts revel to the chorus of FOX & Friends…

    Or are you now going to claim that no real Conservatives (that you know) ever ditto to such programs…

  • Stan B.

    Fixing it doesn’t translate into kicking out the people who live there to let the well heeled in, that’s called taking advantage of someone and their situation.

    Also, I lived in such a “run down” area with character- I moved out when the snobs moved in.

    I’d be all for “gentrification” if it was an actual fix for a neighborhood and its people, not just an opportunity for a land grab…