It might be hard to believe now. But there once was a time when people bemoaned the miraculous transformation of Hudson’s historic Warren Street from a nearly abandoned strip of what was considered “obsolete” old buildings to a decorative arts center so sophisticated that it became as renown as it tended to be pricey. Now some might be concerned about its changing identity from a town made up of businesses that primarily sell antiques and home furnishings to one that focuses equally on other areas of style—and food– with the arrival of so many new non-antique stores that even a daily passerby could be forgiven for not being able to keep track. The 400 block is the most glaring example.
Just in the last year we’ve seen Kosa (clothing) moving from a spot on the 500 block to 443 Warren, only now to be replaced by the newly opened Hudson Clothier. Hudson and Laight Gallery has been replaced by Cesare + Lili, “a luxe beauty bar” at 437. Harvey’s Counter has been replaced by a boutique of scarves and shawls, fig & bella, at 443. Up a block, at 527, Savor the Taste is setting up to take the place where Mark Frisman Antiques once was. And most dramatically, Matt McGhee’s high-end, year-round Christmas store, fresh from Greenwich Village, will be taking the place of the boutique Laloon in the handsome building at 445, some time around Thanksgiving.
To this observer, although almost none of the wares at these venues seem to have been chosen with him in mind, the town’s gradual shift from its first reincarnation is far from something to be concerned about: Jane Jacobs herself addressed this issue in her essential The Economy of Cities. The major premise of her book is that one-business towns (Detroit for instance), i.e. those that lack diversity in their economic backbone, are far more vulnerable to distress, if not complete collapse, than those that have nurtured it. Granted, “style” here –in whatever form– is roughly equivalent to “automobiles” in Detroit, but the ever-changing form that it has been taking recently is a sign that people are as beguiled by our town as ever, and that our motors are running smoothly. –Scott Baldinger