Over the last few years, the East Village has traded much of its bohemian flavor for tony high rise apartments, fancy hotels and even a 7-Eleven. Now those who remember the neighborhood’s artsy roots have one more nail to hammer into that coffin – the news that iconic punk hangout Mars Bar is slated to become a branch of TD Bank.
Hank Penza’s East Village haunt opened in 1985 at the peak of the East Village punk movement, when the Bowery was still considered a crumbling, dangerous place. The dive served over twenty years of punks, anarchists, bohemians and New York’s alternative scene before shutting its doors permanently in June of 2011.
The building was razed last summer as construction for the new Jupiter 21 apartments began and the block, which now hosts East Village eatery Veselka and the Avalon Bowery luxury apartments, became more mainstream in its flavor. Still, some held onto rumors that a similar bar would open in Mars Bars’ place but were crushed this week, when a TD Bank sign was placed on the construction site. Sadly, the ironic replacement of a punk bar with a bank may be the perfect symbol of the East Village’s transformation.