This news story originally ran on July 30, 2001…
The End of an Era: Wetlands Preserve to Shut its Doors After 13 Years, Owner Pete Shapiro Reflects
After nearly 13 years, legendary New York City music venue and activism center Wetlands Preserve is closing. The Manhattan building is being sold and converted into residential condos. Wetlands opened on Valentines Day, 1989 and has helped launch the careers of countless bands including Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, Spin Doctors, God Street Wine and The Disco Biscuits, to name a few. Owner Pete Shapiro discusses some of his favorite memories from the club.
Strangefolk NYE 1997: I had only been there for a year or so, and got to be a part of such a unique celebration. There’s an aura of a New Years Eve show. It was a major night for me, because those guys had become friends of mine. It was so memorable. They played ‘til dawn and it just seemed like the night kept going and going.
Bob Weir and Hanson Feb. 13, 1999: I think that really represented the best of what Wetlands can be. Plus it was my idea, for the 10th anniversary, and I wanted to think of the most bizarre thing I could do to make the night special. After thinking about it for days, one day I woke up and thought that the Hanson guys with Bobby would be really bizarre and then I made it happen. I was really happy that we were able to keep it a secret. The majority of the audience didn’t know what the fuck was going on.
The lounge: One of my favorite things about Wetlands has always been just hanging out in the lounge when it’s rocking, and the band upstairs is playing at the same time. One show in particular that I remember was the Jambands.com tour in 1999. We had 16 bands in two nights. There aren’t too many clubs that can pull that off. We might not have always had the best sightlines, but I don’t know too many other clubs where you can see two bands at the same time and I think that’s why Wetlands worked on so many levels. It wasn’t just about going to a show. It was about experiencing a night of music and interacting with people and moving around downstairs and upstairs and hanging out by the bus. There are a lot of little areas of the club and a lot of nooks and crannies. For a lot of venues a big open room is ideal, but Wetlands certainly wasn’t that and in a way the weird layout of the club made it so special.