Pearl Street Diner
in Lower Manhattan on Pearl Street at Fletcher Street
I recently learned from the NYNeon blog that the Pearl Street Diner has been closed since the hurricane. I should have guessed and gone to check on it, but I go down to Wall Street so rarely these days that I sometimes forget about the good things tucked in amongst the concrete canyons. I really hope the diner reopens soon — and I’ll be there for a proper neon visit the minute it does. (That NYNeon blog post linked above also lists some other sad neon losses from the last year.)
Adios to 2012. It’s not my favorite year so far, but there have been some bright spots. Most importantly, thank you all for following along, for contributing, and for chiming in. Fellow neon fans definitely make my world brighter
See you all in 2013!
Mitchell’s Wine & Liquor Store
in the Upper West Side on W 86th St between Amsterdam & Broadway
Recently I received a tip from Project Neon reader Rob B. who warned me that the neon sign at Mitchell’s will be removed in a spring renovation. Noooo!
I really like this sign. It’s not the most elaborate sign in New York, but it dates from the ’40s according to New York Neon, and I find it appealing. I like the dark blue circle between Wines and LIquors, I like the odd tail to the Q, and I like the addition of the green vertical sign to the right. It all adds up to a nice sign I’d be sad to see go.
I stopped by on Christmas eve to pick up a new bottle of Marsala, my secret ingredient in many stews and sauces (and a great pick-me-up for the chef as well). The shop is lovely, and though small, packed to the gills with bottles of every alcohol around. Rolling ladders allow the staff to reach the upper echelons of the wooden shelves, giving the shop a ship-like feel.
The staff were friendly and seemed sympathetic to my inquiries about the sign, but alas my Spanish has rusted shut from years of disuse and the English of the gentleman I spoke to was a little tricky to make out. It sounds like the street level shops along the large building (200 W 86th Street) are all getting renovated, and with the renovation the liquor store is ditching the sign. That would be terrible!
The sign looks to need some repair — there were a few letters out and one letter on the vertical sign was missing its tubing — but that’s certainly no reason to scrap the whole thing.
I’m going to do a little more investigation and see if I can find the name of the shop owner and maybe get more of the story. In the mean time, if you would like to write the shop and tell them how much you love the sign, their full address is:
Mitchell’s Wine & Liquor
200 West 86th Street
New York, NY 10024
I’ll let you know any updates as I hear about them. Let’s save this sign!
in Harlem on Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Blvd between W 124th & W 125th Streets
The Lenox Lounge is closing at the end of the month. There are conflicting reports about how radical the change will be when it reopens under new owners, but it will certainly change. I am, once again, kicking myself for not visiting an NYC landmark until the end of its era.
The Lenox Lounge is a gem inside and out. I didn’t go to hear music, just sat at the bar after work, surrounded by affable working stiffs who, like me, needed a stiff drink. Unfortunately a mild beer is the most I can handle these days, but at the happy hour price of $3 a bottle, it hit the spot well within budget. The crowd was congenial without being nosy or noisy, and after a stressful work day, nothing could have been better. But the city’s changing and the Lenox Lounge with it, and I have a bad feeling that it’s going to turn all fancy-pants, and not be the kind of place it’s OK to sit and drink a $3 beer for an hour in the company of regular people.
The neon sign is one of my favorites. I love the unique lettering, especially the crescent-moon Es. I can only hope the new owners love the sign half as much as I do, so it will remain as a memorial to the cool spot that once stood just behind it. I hope I’m wrong, I hope things will continue on at least mostly the same, but seeing what’s happened to similar places (like Fedora’s), it doesn’t seem likely, does it? Go while you still can.
RIP Lenox Lounge, 1942 - 2012
More sad neon news coming up in a few days. Help document the neon that’s still shining (and not just in NYC) in the Project Neon Flickr pool!
Oh, and I’ve been trying to post more to the Project Neon Facebook page if that’s your thing.
(On First Avenue @ 66th Street in the Upper East Side)
I’ve already written about Goldberger’s Pharmacy, but those of you who have been following along since the beginning may recognize that this is the first neon photo I posted to the Project Neon Flickr set, exactly two years ago today. Yep, it’s Project Neon’s 2nd birthday. Goldberger’s (together with the Cork & Bottle) was the original inspiration for Project Neon on a dark December night two years ago. Those weren’t the first neon signs I’d photographed, but they were the first signs in New York City, and so began this project.
I’d like to thank all of you who have been following along, everyone who supported the Kickstarter project, and all the shopkeepers and neon repairers and sign makers who make the city nights brighter. Without all of you Project Neon never would have happened.
Jump in the Pool!
In celebration of Neon Appreciation Day tomorrow (Monday) (aka the anniversary of Project Neon!), I’ve started a Flickr group for Project Neon. You can join up and sumbit your photos here:
I’ve set up some rules to keep things interesting, to keep the style of the pool in the same spirit as my photos on Project Neon, and to distinguish the group a bit from the other neon-centric Flickr groups. I also added a few photos to get things started, and I hope you’ll join in. I’m looking forward to seeing some neon from all over the world!
On a personal note, I want to thank you all for your patience with my more intermittent posting lately. After 6 months of doctors and tests and whatnot, I’ve finally found out what my health problem is, and it’s fibromyalgia. (I’ve also found a good doctor who is helping me figure out how to feel better, though it will probably take some time.) I mention this for two reasons: so you’ll understand if my wanderings remain curtailed for a while (and won’t think I’ve lost interest), and also because it’s not a well recognized disease though it is surprisingly common, and I think it would be a little easier for everyone who has to deal with it if more people understood a bit about it. You can find out more about it at the Fibromyalgia Network. OK, that’s the end of my litte PSA — back to neon!
The Project Neon app isn’t working well with the new iOS6. Drat! I’m looking into how much it will cost to update the app — I’m a bit skint at the moment, but will get it sorted as soon as I can.
It’s not neon, but the Etsy blog had a nice write-up on hand-painted signs recently. Also on the hand-painted front, I flipped through the Sign Painters book recently at a book store and it’s really great. I’m adding it to my wish list now! Another great book I saw was New York Originals, which features small shops from around the city, a few of which are beneoned.
(in the Upper West Side on Broadway between 105th and 106th Streets)
I’ve got a couple of posts I’m hoping to have time to get to this weekend, but first I’d like to say thanks to Lisa Hix, for the Project Neon interview she’s written for Collectors Weekly. Thank you, Lisa, for making me sound vaguely coherent!
The photo above from Riverside Liquor on Broadway is one of my favorites (as you may have guessed from its inclusion in the Limited Edition Prints). When I stopped by for a visit last weekend, though, the sign was looking a little the worse for wear:
It’s still a great sign, but I do hope it gets repaired soon. Speaking of repairs, I also stopped by Murray’s Sturgeon Shop, hoping that the removal of the scaffolding from the building meant they had maybe fixed their neon. Alas, no luck.
Riverside is a small liquor shop with an indecipherable (at least to me) cataloguing system. You’re best off asking for help, which was what I ended up doing. I was buying some blended scotch to try scotch & soda — believe it or not, I’ve never had it! — as part of a new project of mine, A Culinary Companion. (It’s a writing project, not a pictures project, about food & literature.) I was surprised to find both scotch & soda and brandy & soda very pleasant. Not as forceful and warming as the straight up liquors, but neither were they just watered down nothings. More just a gentler form of drink, refreshing with the bubbles. A pleasant accompaniment to a lazy afternoon.
Anyway, the staff at Riverside were friendly and helpful, and there was a steady parade of patrons from all walks of life. The sign is a bright spot on broadway, with the classic mazey infill that I love. I’ve said before that pink isn’t one of my favorite colors (I guess I’m not a very girly girl), but pink neon is just fantastic.
OK, I’ll be back later this weekend with more neon news, links, and photos. See you then!
(In Red Hook on Conover Street btwn Reed & Beard Streets)
I’ve written about Sunny’s before, but I’m here now to tell you that Sunny’s needs your help. This wonderful bar is in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and as many of you know, Red Hook was hit hard by the storm. Sunny’s did not escape damage.
Head on over to Kickstarter to help reopen Sunny’s, or head to Hamilton Gallery Theater on Saturday for another fundraiser. Their Kickstarter project has some really great rewards, including a miniature version of their awesome neon sign. Help out if you can!
RIP Lobster House neon
(on City Island, on Bridge Street between City Island Avenue & Minnieford Avenue)
The New York Neon blog reports that the iconic City Island Lobster House sign was destroyed by Sandy. Happily the restaurant itself is up and running, but I’m sad that such a great sign has been lost. I’m glad I was able to visit while it was there. (Here’s what it looks like now.)
Another neon loss reported in that same New York Neon blog post is the lovely Shore Theatre sign in Coney Island. It was missing its tubing, so I never saw it lit, but it was nevertheless a landmark of Coney Island. Another serious blow to New York’s neon collection.
As you may have heard, Sandy’s effects are still being felt by too many residents & small businesses of New York & New Jersey. Some suggestions for how you can help are in my last post.
(in Kips Bay, formerly SoPo, on 2nd Avenue at 34th Street)
Power is back on for most of Manhattan, but big sections of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island are still dark, not to mention Westchester County, Long Island, and New Jersey. As the effects of Sandy stretch on, and as the nights get colder, this is going to cause more and more hardship. And so much cleaning and taking stock remains to be done. My health is still crap at the moment (plus there are still no working subways near me), so I can’t get out to help Red Hook, Dumbo, Coney Island, Staten Island, Breezy Point, the Rockaways, or any of the other hardest-hit neighborhoods, but I’ll be giving a couple of small donations (I wish I could afford more) to help those whose lives have been knocked sideways by the storm. If you’d like to help but aren’t able to volunteer, here are a few suggestions:
…and there are loads of other places. Feel free to put suggestions in the comments.
The storm didn’t affect me in any major way — the worst of it is that the lack of subways here has made it tough for me to get around. Getting into work on Thursday & Friday was a challenge, and that probably won’t change for the next week. Really, though, I am very lucky — I’m unhurt, my apartment is fine, my electricity and gas haven’t gone out (heat’s been barely working, but that’s nothing to do with the storm), even the internet has been up and running throughout.
Coming home from work on Thursday, I walked about an hour south into the neighborhood jokingly referred to as SoPo (SOuth of POwer) — and nearly got stuck there when the line for the East River ferry ballooned to hundreds more people than the ferries could carry. On the way down, though, it was heartening to see so many signs of civility in the battered neighborhoods still without power at that point. Clover Deli, for one, was serving hot chocolate and coffee (though they rolled down the gates just before I took this picture since the sun was setting). Other businesses kept operating by candlelight. Street lights were out, and while traffic police had been dispatched to the largest intersections and traffic was relatively light, it was amazing to see and experience how well cars, bicycles, and pedestrians could negotiate the other intersections just by being civil. The rhythm of the city pulses on and New Yorkers find a way. It really is the MacGuyver of cities — we will take stock of what we have and what what needs to be done, and somehow we will connect the dots.
Uptown near my work seeing some of the first neon signs I photographed for this project still alight, undamaged, was really heartening. Yes, it was the lucky NoPo neighborhood, but just to see that some things were still aglow even though half the skyline was dark, gave me hope.
My heart goes out to everyone still suffering, and to those who have lost family or friends. I hope this disaster motivates us to put things right and rebuild better and brighter everything that was destroyed.
Ship Lantern Inn
1725 Route 9W, Milton, Ulster County, NY
Greetings from storm central. Project Neon Headquarters is, happily, on higher ground, and the subway closing down means no work for a day or two. Hurrah! So far it’s windy and lightly raining, but the worst is on the way with the full moon storm surge. Here nothing worse than a cat falling into the full bathtub has happened, but we’re braced for power, internet, gas, or water outages. Hopefully not all four.
I hope everyone is snug inside somewhere safe from the flooding. I hope the storm isn’t as bad as it looks like it’s going to be. And I hope none of the East Coast’s great neon signs are destroyed and that any damage can be easily repaired.
Happily on Saturday ahead of the storm, I was able to venture up the Hudson River with Project Neon friend Paul Lukas for an action packed day that began with touring the ruins of Bannerman Castle, which sits on an island in the Hudson and may be familiar to those of you who have taken the train from New York to Albany. The tours are run by the Bannerman Castle Trust, and tell the fascinating history of the ruins (a Scottish castle and lodge) and the man who built them.They’ve ended for the summer, but I highly recommend it for next year. And here’s hoping what remains of the castle weathers the storm.
After the tour we were feeling a bit peckish, so we stopped in a Pete’s, which we had spotted on the way up, for a couple of hot dogs. This lovely sign was inside:
Love the brush strokes inside the neon!
After that, on our way to a beefsteak in New Jersey, we drove past the stellar sign up top for the Ship Lantern Inn. Sadly it wasn’t quite dark yet, but still, what a sign! I love “Cuisine Continental.” We decided to stop in for a drink. It turned out to be a pretty fancy spot and we were a tad underdressed, but the bartender and owner were completely cordial and welcoming. We only had time for a couple of beers, but the snug ship-like bar was very pleasant and the main restaurant, which was hosting a party, was festive. A very pleasant place to spend an evening. If you ever find yourself in Milton, New York on Route 9W, I definitely recommend stopping in for a drink. And whether or not you’re going to be in the area, check out the very interesting history on their web page. (And a few more pictures are over in my Flickr.)