Last Sunday's New York Times blasted me to the past with this article about the Salvation Army's Parkside Evangeline Residence. When I first moved to New York City after college, I needed a place to stay while I was interviewing for jobs and looking for an apartment. I spent about 10 days at the Parkside Evangeline, which I insisted, then and now, on calling the Home for Wayward Girls. I think it cost $35 a night.
This women-only, single-room-occupancy, extended-stay hotel was a throwback even then, with its dingy decor and prim rules about male visitors to your room (as in, none allowed. Not that I had anyone to invite up). I didn't eat in the dining room or spend any time in the lobby -- if I wasn't out prowling for a job or an apartment, I holed up in my room with a few books and a tiny radio for company.
I did have friends in the city but I mostly remember feeling lonely and scared. I'd lived in Philadelphia for the past four years but was still felt like a total rube in NYC. Sleeping alone in a dim, narrow room, skulking down the hall to use the bathroom, and communicating with the outside world via the hallway pay phone didn't help at all. Nor did the bank screwup that left me with almost no cash (or credit) for a few days, weighing whether to spend my last $1.50 on a subway token or a bagel on the morning of an interview.
And I never availed myself of my one and only chance to visit Gramercy Park! Curses.
As for the plan to evict the remaining tenants from the Parkside Evangeline and sell the building, I can't say I blame the Salvation Army. Yes, the deal stinks for the current residents and for people in the position I was in. And it's a shame to see one of those places that makes New York New York be turned into yet another luxury condo. But all that sentiment and $1.50 will not even get you a ride on the subway.