Urban historian Richard Schave’s site-specific discussion series “The Flâneur & The City” is an ongoing attempt to explore some of the more important issues revealed by the constantly changing heart of the metropolis.The core notion of the series is of culture and history as commodities that are packaged and sold to a target demographic; meanwhile, it’s the ignored and seemingly worthless scraps of meaning found on the sidewalks and marketplaces where the true remnants of positive public space can be found. All interpretations and nuisances of the word flâneur are examined — from the modern-day aesthete dreaming of Baudelaire while carried along in the human tide past the stalls and shops of Broadway, to its more recent and perhaps relevant use, someone who is loitering. At its heart this series is a celebration of the simple act of getting out of your car and walking through a neighborhood and learning to see it with all your eyes.
In this installment, we will visit the famous Batchelder-tiled Dutch Chocolate Shoppe (aka Finney’s Cafeteria), strolling distance from our starting point, on West 6th Street near Broadway. Re-adapted numerous times since piping hot caldrons of cocoa kept Angelinos warm on those cool winter nights, we will try to trace the palimpsest of this city treasure. Topics include the proposed revisions to the city’s Cultural Heritage Ordinance, the impact these would have on a space such as the Chocolate Shoppe, and a history of the storefront from 1914 to the present. We will begin the tour from the bakery counter at Clifton’s Cafeteria, where you can obtain a hot beverage for the road, as there is no longer any cocoa to be found at our destination.