Lunch in Squires diner, in Lower Manhattan's Southbridge Tower housing complex, is an altogether happy experience. Squires hasn't got what you'd call period charm in way of looks, but the customers are old New York in spades. Old literally too. Here in a booth, working on my toasted bagel and my bowl of minestrone, I'm young again! Longtime retirees predominate, though there's a fair sprinkling of middle-aged-and-under types too. The service is brisk and friendly, and something about the place gives you a sense of utter relaxation. Here you can exhale, melt right into the vinyl. Here's the city we thought we'd gone and lost.
I guess you wouldn't call Southbridge pretty, but I like its boxy construction and succession of courtyards. Architecturally, it reminds me of British public buildings of the period, so maybe that's why I find it so appealing. With a diner and a supermarket right on site, I could get old here too. But Mitchell-Lama Southbridge Towers went market-rate three years ago; now a three-bedroom will cost you close to two million. Today's middle-class must look farther afield. Squires is worth a trip though. A solid choice in a sold-out city.
That swing set playgroundette looks like the same vintage as the buildings.