I have written a number of times about the very rough side of New York City - you see this in living conditions, the street, businesses etc. In a city with such a wide range of resources and income with the people and businesses, you will see plenty of appropriation, improvisation and salvage. It often can be surprising or even shocking what can be seen in a place like New York City - see Very Practical and the Dark Ages.
Many New York City neighborhoods are in transition, often with a mix of of old and new. In time, gentrification usually rules the day and a transformation ensues. Occasionally there are surviving holdouts due to special situations - long leases or building ownership. But even in the case of property ownership, the lure of big money by cashing in on the real estate becomes too great and owners ultimately sell. A good example is Grand Machinery Exchange, the last of 40 dealers of machinery in the SoHo/Canal Street area. Sale of their buildings brought a small fortune.
In today's photo, the Chess Shop at 230 Thompson Street managed to scavenge discarded chess table tops in concrete with a steel banding from Washington Square Park, still under renovation in phase 2. See the chess playing area here, prior to demolition. It is surprising how often one can see something quite edgy like this, often juxtaposed with the much more upscale.
Add piles of cinder blocks for bases and you have some very durable chess tables for a long time to come. I asked the shopkeeper what they do with these after closing - I had forgotten, there is no closing - the shop is open 24 hours so there is no need to bring the tables in from the street.
Of course a chess shop is not the type of business with the income to indulge in lavish furnishings, so this solution to their al fresco chess playing needs makes sense. No worry about damage, vandalism or theft. The tables may not be pretty, but like Manhattan schist that this city is built on, they're solid as a rock :)