Rediscover the UWS's Main Street!
"West Seventy Today" introduces you to your business neighbors along West 72nd Street, from Central Park to Riverside Park in weekly installments.
Meet your neighbors, NOW:
Unstoppable Bike Mechanics
By Claudie Benjamin

Without a doubt, energy and open friendliness is the vibe at Master Bike at 265 West 72nd Street. If this typifies the mood of the biking community, sign me on. I’m ready to jump on a Fuji, snap on a shiny, colorful, striped helmet and zip out the door.  But new enthusiasts as eager as they are, often are cautioned at Master Bike about safety. Even experienced riders who know about mandatory helmets find it hard to simply walk out of the shop, if they are not holding or wearing a helmet without being questioned on the whereabouts of their helmets.  

This concern for safety, resonates for these mechanics, mainly in two ways.  Master Bikes mechanics are also serious cyclists who bike many miles a week.  Mike Lourie has worked for ten years at Master Bike, he bikes 200-300 miles a week. During the worst months of the pandemic, he says biking kept him healthy and sane.  His passion is shared by others.  He says he sees 100s of cyclists riding across the George Washington Bridge.
Mike not only maintains a rigorous cycling routine, but he appears to know and love everything about bicycles. “You care for your bike as you would for yourself.” He’s pretty down on commuters who just ride their bike and hang it up on a wall when they’re home.  In contrast, a serious cyclist doesn’t go to bed before cleaning the chains, the wheels, the tube – everything. This cleaning process can take an hour or more after each ride. 

Clearly the comradery between members of the biking community is robust.  Coming into the store, true members of this community greet each other exuberantly.  They compliment each other on looking well. Smiles may not be visible, but their loud greetings are heard behind protective masks necessary in the Covid period. They may not have seen each other in months and now exchange gossip or sightings of well-known sports people seen riding in the neighborhood.  “I saw…” “What was he doing?” “Just going along in the park.”

Master Bike’s owner Master Mechanic Imbert Jimenez knows everything about bikes.  He loves and breathes cycling. KEEP READING
...and THEN:
The Incident of the Revolving Door
by Tom Miller

On April 25, 1896 the Record & Guide reported on the newly completed houses at 265 through 269 West 72nd Street, just east of West End Avenue. Erected by developer and physician William E. Diller, the journal said, “In this operation Dr. Diller has evidently has in mind the wants of people of quite large means.” Designed by architect Gilbert A. Shellenger in the Renaissance Revival style, each was an ample 25-feet wide and rose four stories above an English basement. Faced in brown Roman brick, they were liberally trimmed in brownstone and had cost Diller $35,000 each to construct–just over $1 million apiece today.

The critic of the Record & Guide was taken by the upscale homes, saying they the interior spaces “are as stately in their proportions as they are excellent in fittings and finish.” Costly trims were executed in “mahogany, curly birch, sycamore, birdseye maple and quartered oak–finished in the highest style of the polisher’s art.” The parlors, dining rooms and “dressing salons” boasted parquet floors and the exposed plumbing was silver plated. Each of the homes had three bathrooms–two for the family and one for the servants. The family baths included “a Turkish needle and shower bath, and everything requisite to luxurious bathing.”
Perhaps surprisingly, 265 West 72nd Street, the easternmost of the trio, was being operated as a high-end boarding house by the first years of the 20th century. The well-heeled residents in 1905 included W. R. Bascomb, a civil engineer employed by the city’s Department of Bridges. Society pages too notice of a house guest the following year, the New York Herald mentioning on April 16, 1906 “Miss Hastings, of Dallas, Texas, is at No. 265 West Seventy-second street.”

Another boarder was Maxwell Smith a zoologist who specialized in the study of the shells of mollusks. In 1907 he published an article in the Bulletin of the Brooklyn Conchological Club entitled “A New Varietal Form of Turbo Petholatus, Linn.” And at the International Zoological Congress held in Boston in August 1908, he was among a group interested in forming an American Conchological Society. KEEP READING
KEEP READING the history of 265 W72 at 72 Crosstown
72 Crosstown highlights the architectural and social histories of the buildings along West 72nd Street.

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