Back in 2006, The Real Deal covered the demise of 8th Street's shoe stores, reporting that "Since the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, 24 of 54 shoe stores have closed, a devastating percentage." Since then, that number has most certainly gone up.
The street is a ghost town of soaped-over windows, for rent signs, and going out of business banners. Rugged Sole is currently holding a "Business Sucks" sale. The sidewalks are empty, which actually makes 8th Street a pleasant route for walking unmolested by jerks with giant shopping bags, drunken college students, and entitled Wall Streeters. It's a place to be (almost) alone. But that is going to change. Fast.
After the onslaught of rent hikes, the street has been in a holding pattern, waiting for super-gentrification to wash away the urine and incense vendors. Recently, the luxurification arrived.
In a space once occupied by a club called 8th Wonder, where Jimi Hendrix used to play, upscale restaurant Elletaria just opened. The crowds are pouring in for pigs feet and sweetbreads--washed down with the 8th Wonder cocktail--and I predict that its presence will tip the scales on 8th Street once and for all.