Columbia University to Preserve the West Market Diner in Manhattanville

Interior of Gibbs Diner (predecessor of the West Market Diner)

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In keeping with its commitment to historic preservation, Columbia University is taking steps to preserve and restore a classic Upper Manhattan eatery.

 

Historically significant sections of the West Market Diner, which has been closed since 2003, have been temporarily relocated from the northeast corner of 12th Avenue and West 131st Street to an off-site facility where they will be refurbished and then returned to a permanent home in Manhattanville in West Harlem, where the University is building a new campus.    

The diner, known for its “rail car” design and nostalgic appeal, consists of three parts: the 1921 Tierney Diner car; a cinderblock dining room addition; and the historically significant 1948 Mountain View Diner car.

 

The Mountain View Diner Car, the diner’s most salvageable section, will be preserved and restored. The Tierney Diner car (which was converted to a commercial kitchen) and dining room addition experienced structural degradation; however the University was able to recover wood ceilings, light fixtures, floor tiles and other materials from these sections for reuse or donation to other diner refurbishment projects.

 

Over the next three decades, Columbia’s long-term plan for the old Manhattanville manufacturing area will revitalize the four former industrial blocks from 125th/129th to 133rd Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue, and three small blocks along the east side of Broadway from 131st to 134th Street, into an environmentally sustainable and publicly accessible center for academic and civic life woven into the fabric of the West Harlem community.

 

Other buildings within the Manhattanville campus expansion that will be preserved and restored are Prentis Hall, a former milk bottling plant at 632 West 125th Street and the Nash building, a former automobile service station and showroom of the Warren-Nash Motor Corporation at 3280 Broadway. The Studebaker building, a former Studebaker automobile finishing facility at 615 West 131st Street has already been renovated for adaptive reuse as University administrative offices, and some 800 Columbia employees now work there.

 

For more information on Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus plan, visit campusplan.columbia.edu.