In a word, the Demolition Depot in East Harlem is a palace. A palace belonging to the most fantastically tasteful chronic hoarder ever. Contained within are thousands of artifacts from old buildings, some from estate sales in the region. But these aren’t just doorknobs and bookends; out back, one finds huge ornamental details from previous building facades, intact marble sculptures, and subway signs that once directed riders to now extinct lines. Inside, spread over four very cramped floors, are hundreds of fixtures for every part of the home, including sinks, toilets, doors, and stained glass windows.
It’s a fun way to kill some time browsing, but it also comes with two caveats: First, it’s not for the faint of heart. A quick Yelp search reveals one user’s frustration at finding a reasonably priced radiator, from sorting through the literal stack of them to the haggling. The items’ tags show not price but a unique number that serious buyers must jot down and look up downstairs. Secondly, there are times at which the place can feel downright creepy. Its location isn’t exactly conducive to casual pop-ins from the street, so once you get upstairs and away from the employees, there’s a fair chance you’ll be alone. The floors creek to the point that you can’t help but wonder just how many old toilets a prewar building can handle on one floor (the website lists 146, not including the bidets and urinals). The lights only come on abruptly after detecting motion. And the religious artifacts–the creepiest of all artifacts–meet you at the tops and bottoms of the narrow, dark stairwells. Consider it part of the overall experience, and one that’s unlikely to be regretted.
You can find more from Judy her Tumblr, Taiwanderlust.
The Demolition Depot
216 East 125th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Ave)