I can’t help but share in Grossich’s optimism. We’ll never have John W. Campbell’s New York again (with or without the Gerber Groups of the world), and that’s not entirely the worst thing (the man didn’t wear pants to work!). But there’s still something to be said for trying desperately to hold on to the last vestiges of past New Yorks. Even if said vestige came out of the ‘90s, its roots were still firmly cemented in the past, which can hardly be said for clubby lounges full of Wall Street traders and recent Big Ten grads chugging vodka-Red Bulls.
The night before the Campbell Apartment closed, I put on a dress and heels and dragged my roommate to Grand Central with me at 11:30pm. We stood at the bar waiting for seats to open up, silent and smiling in a way we definitely thought looked wistful and knowing but probably come off as vaguely creepy to our neighbors, two men in suits unapologetically taking up more than their fair share of the counter. The place was full but not crowded, most people having settled in for the evening. It was hard to tell who knew that the following day was the bar’s last, but everyone looked content and comfortable and all at once at home and out of time amidst the dim sconces and red upholstery. The closure of the Campbell Apartment doesn’t just mean finding a new modern-day speakeasy. The true heartbreak comes from having one of those consummate pieces taken from us, making New York a little less complete, a little less constant, a little less ours.