Established 1921

"This one is really the face of Vanishing New York. This is a business that's been here for 94 years, made it through the Great Depression, made it through everything. This store is part of the fabric of New York."

After 94 years in business, Louis Shoe Rebuilders is getting the boot from Empire State Realty Trust without reason. On June 18th, #SaveNYC paid our respects and commemorated the life of this cultural gem with a funeral; old shoes and flowers were brought as offerings, the mourners dressed in black, and the legendary Penny Arcade gave a fiery eulogy for the beloved shop. Ms Beatrice Barbieri and her staff (Julio, Fabio, and Luisa) are some of the best New Yorkers we've ever met, with wonderful stories to tell about their loyal customer base and the changing neighborhood. In a short period of time we already consider them part of our #‎SaveNYC family. They will be missed by many.

All photography by Beatriz Elena Rodriguez © 2015

Step By Step

Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce members march behind a banner 
which includes #SaveNYC signs at the June 14th Flag Day parade

"Iconic mom and pops stores throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn have been disappearing at a rapid pace and the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce is backing a city council bill that it believes will stop the hemorrhaging before development and rent hikes set in here. The bill called the Small Business Jobs Survival Act aims to provide commercial tenants with more clout at the bargaining table when their lease comes up for renewal. Furthermore, it also requires landlords to provide greater notification if they don’t intend to renew a lease due to development. The Sunnyside board unanimously decided last month to advocate for the passage of the bill."

Text from The Sunnyside Post, June 16th

Funeral For A Shoe Repair Shop

After 94 years in business, Louis Shoe Rebuilders is getting the boot from their landlord, Empire State Realty Trust (aka the Empire State Building). Take this opportunity to show your love for the dying city. On Thursday, June 18th starting at noon, come to a funeral for this venerable small business hosted by #SaveNYC. Bring old shoes and flowers as an offering. Bring your #SaveNYC signs. Dress in funeral black. Eulogies welcome.


Louis Shoe Rebuilders has been in business since 1921, originally located on the site of the Empire State Building before there ever was an Empire State Building. When the new skyscraper opened in 1931, the landlord took Louis in. But they won't be there for much longer. The 94-year-old shop will be closing at the end of June. Owner Beatrice Barbieri: "We're not having our lease renewed. They want $25,000 and nobody can pay that on shoe repair." The Empire State Building is owned by Empire State Realty Trust, run by the Malkin family, who bought the building from Donald Trump in 2002. The building is going through changes. Tony Malkin has said he considers it the center of Silicon Alley and a "premier urban campus" for tech companies. Ground-floor windows are papered with "Retail Space Available" signs. Banners wrapped around the scaffolding cheer: "$550 Million in Building Upgrades" and "Creating New Jobs in New York.” But jobs are also being destroyed here, like the one done by cobbler and store manager Julio Galvis for the past 27 years. [Story continues here]


Louis Shoe Rebuilders is located at 25 W 33rd Street, in the Empire State Building. The shop's
entrance is on the street. The funeral is rain or shine (bring a black umbrella if it's raining).

Hunger Strike Against Eviction

Sunrise Co-op Press Conference & Hunger Strike

The Project
The New York City Economic Development Corp's Willets Point redevelopment plan calls for the displacement of over 200 small businesses. It was approved in the final days of the Bloomberg administration and currently being carried out under Mayor Bill de Blasio. In 2014 a cooperative of businesses that reached an agreement with NYCEDC leased a new site in the Bronx. Promised funding and permits needed to create a viable relocation site have been held up by the city. The deadline to vacate the area was June 1st.

Plea to Council Member Julissa Ferreras
"Necesitamos de que nos de su apollo porque nosotros somos su vecindario. [...] su barrio y ella no puede abandonar estas familias y dejarlos que nos tire a la calle." (Translation: We need her support because we are her community, her neighborhood, and she can't abandon these families and leave us thrown out on the streets).

Plea to the de Blasio Administration 
Businesses aren't allowed a few more months to relocate in the Bronx nor given the time to raise money for the transition as was promised and signed for. The land was sold off to billionaire developers for $1 during the Bloomberg administration. They're given the right to buy land for $1, but small businesses operated/run by mostly low-income to middle class immigrants in Queens‬ don't have the right to a decent relocation plan.  

Hunger Strike *
The NYCEDC reached a deal with some of the Willets Point small businesses promising them more time and assistance in relocating. The hunger strike began on June 1, 2015.