10th Avenue: on one block, construction proceeds for the glistening new skyscrapers of Hudson Yards. Not 400 meters away, a group of artisans repairs chair caning by hand in a dusty workshop.
The artisans work at Veteran’s Caning & Repair, a 116-year-old shop that houses a valuable yet dying craft. Chair caning is the art and labor of weaving honeycomb patterns into pieces of furniture like chair backs or seats. It is a laborious, time-consuming process that can take up to a year to master.
Veteran’s serves a clientele ranging from the Frick museum to everyday New Yorkers. StarTribune found antique rocking chairs, family heirlooms, and Mies van der Rohe designs piled up together in the workshop, awaiting repair.
“We are dependent on these people,” Glenn Adamson, director of Manhattan’s Museum of Arts and Design, told StarTribune. “We might not notice them, but if this shop would go away, you would definitely miss it.”
And Veteran’s does feel the pressure to move that permeates the neighborhood. The shop’s owner, Sean Bausert, has watched neighboring tenants and businesses one by one begin to pack up their lives and leave Hudson Yards behind. The shop’s lease lasts through the spring of 2017, but its long-term fate remains uncertain.
Bausert told StarTribune that he understands development and the benefits it brings, but, he says, “We’re old New York! We’ve been around 116 years…This is more than just about the chairs; it’s about the changing face of New York City.”