A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from April 19, 2005
Chess District; Washington Square Park’s “Snake Pit”
Greenwich Village has its own "Chess District." It starts at the southwest corner of Washington Square Park, where you can grab a table if the weather cooperates.

Then, walk down Thompson Street and you'll see some chess shops, such as the Chess Forum and the Village Chess Shop. There's been some bad blood between the chess stores here, but as with other districts, the competition of several stores together brings in more people.

For some, chess is a hobby. For others, it's a sport. In the southwest corner of Washington Square Park, chess is a way of life - one that might soon be threatened.

The Parks Department plans to close large chunks of the park during renovations beginning this summer, leaving the famed chess players in the corner of the park affectionately called "the snake pit" worried that they'll have to take their game elsewhere.


A Stroll On Thompson St.
by Abbey Ehmann

From the bustle and backed up traffic of Canal Street to the verdant (okay, cement) village green (okay, grey) of Washington Square Park, runs the eight-block expanse of Thompson Street. One of Manhattan's quieter stretches of shops, restaurants and apartment buildings and sliced in the middle by Houston Street, Thompson is half Soho hip and half Village bohemia. The neighborhood has changed considerably over the past few decades, from the gritty blocks epitomized by the gay-bashing scene in Torchsong Triology to a shopping circuit for the ladies of Sex in the City. It's home to 35 restaurants and bars, and Gotham's official "chess district" with the city's two most comprehensive chess stores.

The scene is the southwest corner of Washington Square Park in New York City's Greeenwich Village. This is the city's chess district, which is not as well known as the diamond, garment or financial districts, but certainly quainter. The district is anchored by the tables in Washington Square (featured in the 1994 movie Searching for Bobby Fischer) and a pair of chess shops located one block south on Thompson Street, where patrons play until midnight for a dollar an hour.

219: Chess Forum, which makes up half of New York's ''chess district,'' has more of the fantastical chess sets that make for great window-shopping.
230: Village Chess Shop; chess equipment and pick-up games. Also the address of Cookies and Couscous, a Mideastern restaurant and bakery.

12 March 2003, The Guardian, pg. 7:
Frohlinde opened the Chess Shop in 1972. The seeds of dispute were sown when he later hired Khachan, who soon became manager. He offered Khachan a partnership in the business. Frohlinde says Khachan never came up with the money; Khachan says Frohlinde never came good on his promise.

By 1995, Khachan had left to open the Chess Forum, taking some of the Chess Shop's regulars with him. The game was on. The two have not spoken since.

18 April 2005, Metro, pg. 15:
THOMPSON STREET, between Bleecker and West 3rd, is sometimes referred to as Manhattan's "chess district" or "chess street," because of its two large chess stores and its proximity to Washington Square Park, where al fresco chess matches are often in progress.
Posted by Barry Popik
Neighborhoods • Tuesday, April 19, 2005 • Permalink

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