Instead, she signed a two-year lease on a large Tudor-style house in Rego Park, Queens. “It’s very close to where I grew up,” she said. “I guess I’m kind of going back to my start.”
Her roommate, Mr. Arnaud, is moving to Rego Park with her and spent the last month hauling furniture and boxes there to make Ms. Sampson’s end-of-August move-out date. “We all tried to talk her into getting a two-bedroom apartment nearby,” he said. “But she wanted to remember the past. So her whole loft is there now.”
He wasn’t sure Rego Park was a good idea, but then again, besides a few friends, she didn’t really have a community left in SoHo anymore, either. “Those days are over,” he said.
“Most of the things I like are gone,” Ms. Sampson said. Dean & DeLuca closed last year and many of the artisan shops that followed in the galleries’ wake disappeared long ago: the fine jewelry stores, Norma Kamali and her famous sleeping bag coats, all the little coffee shops and restaurants. “It’s become very generic,” she said. Besides the Porto Rico Importing Company, an old neighborhood standby where she buys coffee, the only other place Ms. Sampson shops nearby is Morton Williams.
“When someone like Linda leaves SoHo, it loses one of the sparks of light and history,” said her friend, Ms. Albert. “But then, the neighborhood isn’t what it was. All the people in the arts who had a skill and a talent and a dream, who came and interacted, that’s what made it so special and vibrant.
“Linda and her loft are a piece of the past,” she continued. “Another piece of the past that’s moving on.”