Now & Then: Limelight

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Perhaps no other building in New York City has as varied and storied a history as the one at 656 6th Avenue. In 1844, the first cornerstone was laid for the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion. The church was the first in New York to have free pews. A 1907 photo shows people outside the building after a service.

By 1966 the church complex was designated a landmark. But by then the congregation had dwindled, and in 1976 the building was vacated and deconsecrated. The property was sold to a drug counseling organization, which in turn sold it in 1983 to Canadian club promoter Peter Gatien. He transformed it into the infamous Limelight disco.

By the early 1990s, club kids had taken over the Limelight. Then it all came crashing down after an infamous murder of a drug dealer.

After sitting vacant for a while, the Limelight marketplace opened in 2010 with 12,000 square feet of upscale boutiques. Now the main building is divided between a marketplace and David Barton Gym.

Inside the gym, in addition to all the workout equipment, you'll still find Gatien's old safe. In it are disco balls from an era gone by. Boy, if these walls could talk.