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Lately we've been hearing a lot about stores like 7-11 taking over New York City, but Manhattan has always had its fair share of chains. Over at Vanishing New York, Jeremiah traces the history of New York chain stores, parsing the difference between the good old days and now. "I want balance," he writes. "I want to go back to the days before the Great Chain Explosion, to the antediluvian era when we didn't worry so much about the power of chains to destroy the cultural fabric of the city. And when buying underpants didn't feel like a criminal act." [VNY]