The New York Times, 1986: The recently spruced up Union Square area has become fertile ground for a new crop of restaurants. Union Square Cafe, an inviting, low-key newcomer on the site of the former Brownies, a health food restaurant, is one of the most appealing of the lot.
In 1995: "We're still in the same area, which is important," Ms. Hirsch said. "We think that people who come to Barnes & Noble will appreciate having our store nearby because what we have at our store, you can't get anywhere else."
In the last few years, Revolution Books seemed something of a lonely hanger-on on East [...]
"Very little happens in Union Square that escapes the notice of a man known as Normal Bob Smith, a longtime park fixture who chronicles its characters on the 'Amazing Strangers' portion of his Web site. One of his main genres of park characters is the peeper. Normal Bob, whose given name is Bob Hain, says peepers are a constant presence in the south section of the park, where they prey on women wearing skirts who sit on the sets of steps along 14th Street."
Union Square's sad transformation into Times Square proceeds apace: Construction to turn the former Zen Palate space into a TGI Friday's is in full swing, while uptown barbecue chain Brother Jimmy's has already opened and is happy offering sustenance to suit-wearing douchebags for whom the cuisine of Heartland Brewery is a bit too "ethnic" or "challenging." If you stand on the corner of 16th and Union Square East, you will find yourself victimized by the cruel tyranny of choice: Which of the two equidistant glazed dough providers wares will pad your colon, Tim Horton's or Dunkin Donuts?
It's rare that one looks at an empty building in one's neighborhood and expresses the fervent desire that it become a bank, but news that the Riese Organization plans to turn the vacant shell that was Union Square's Zen Palate into a TGI Friday's engenders exactly that kind of yearning deep in the collective breast of everyone who resides on that sceptered intersection. It's not bad enough that we're about to be inundated with Nordstrom's cut-rate shmattes; we should also suffer from the mutated abomination that is BBQ Pork Ravioli Bites? It makes one nostalgic for the inducement to suicide that was Bradlee's.