A Book From a Blogger About Disappearing New York

At Housing Works, an audience member near the door called out: “So what are we going to do?” A man behind him grumbled, “There’s nothing we can do.”


Alessandra Montalto/The New York Times

Is this a call to action or a wake? Maybe a little of both.

Mr. Moss started out as the neighborhood curmudgeon of the internet, writing his first post, “oh Chumley’s we love you get up,” in 2007 when the Greenwich Village restaurant and onetime speakeasy closed after part of a wall and a chimney collapsed. In doing so, he created a platform for New Yorkers to gather online to mourn the demise of unofficial landmarks of commerce like the old Rizzoli Bookstore and De Robertis Pasticceria & Caffé. In the comments section, readers sometimes debate which losses deserve the collective pity party.

“Let’s be honest, for the past 15 years or so the place was packed with scumbag tourists,” a reader with the handle Gaziano wrote when Gaslight Lounge in the meatpacking district closed last winter. “Good Riddance. Goodbye.”

The blog also introduced a new generation of New Yorkers to activism. “He helped bridge the gap between people who just griped and those who are going to the meetings, going to the protests, writing letters to elected officials,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

In 2014, the gripers met the activists when Mr. Moss led a star-studded campaign to save Cafe Edison, a Theater District institution, all while remaining anonymous. He would show up at events, lingering briefly in a corner. “For reasons I can’t understand, I have a tendency not to be noticed,” he said. “I often feel like I’m invisible.”

The effort to save Cafe Edison inspired lunch mobs, carolers singing about matzo balls and a YouTube video parodying Liza Minnelli and Larry King. The landlord was unmoved by the…

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