The Beatrice Inn
On W 12th St between W 4th St & 8th Avenue in the West Village
I’ve been meaning to stop by and see the restored Beatrice Inn sign for a while now. The Beatrice Inn is too swank for me (especially on a Saturday night), but maybe some weekday I’ll switch out my Chucks for something more fashionable and slip in for a quick drink. And I do love the impossible-sounding address. The West Village can be so wonderfully confounding.
At any rate, the sign is lovely. Classic pink & green, and the patina was left intact (read more about the restoration by the very wonderful Let There Be Neon over on Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York). So the opposite of the Fedora sign, which I want to like — I’m always in favor of keeping neon aglow — but that was just replaced with a vaguely similar sign instead of being repaired & restored, and it shows.
I walked around the West Village last night, revisiting some old favorites (Casa Olivera is no longer animated, but the white horse on the White Horse Tavern’s sign is back to blinking off and on). All in all the West Village still has a good glow, though if you want to see it on a weekend, you’ll have to deal with a lot of hoi polloi to do it.
Those of you following along on Flickr may have noticed some big (for me) news: I saved a slice of my tax refund to buy a slightly fancier camera body (the rest went to paying down debt — so boring!) Last night was my first night out with it and I’m really, really pleased. The high ISO settings are really going to be great for dimmer signs. It’s a little heavier than my old camera and I still haven’t sorted out all the settings, but I’m hoping once I get the hang of it, there will be a noticeable increase in the quality of my photos. Plus I got my lenses professionally cleaned. Improvements all around!
Oh, hey, look — the beautiful Long Island Bar is hiring! I hope when it reopens it will be even 1/10th as special as it used to be (though maybe that’s too much to ask). At any rate, I’ll be so very extremely happy if I can see the sign lit. We need more good neon news!
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!
Today is the last day of the big sale at the Project Neon shop! Use the code NEON25OFF for, you guessed it, 25% off everything — photos, posters, jewelry and more. Get your neon merch today:
New Park Pizza
(in Howard Beach on Cross Bay Boulevard @ 157th Ave)
[if you can’t see the animation above, try here]
Earlier this week I went to Howard Beach where I saw two great signs: New Park Pizza (above) and Lenny’s Clam Bar:
The full New Park Pizza sign looks like this:
Let me tell you, these are two classic Italian establishments, and both real local scenes, even on a Monday night. I brought Paul along (or rather he brought me along, as he did the driving — thanks!) and we started at Lenny’s for oysters and beers. We had another appetizer… was it baked clams? The food, as you might gather, wasn’t the most memorable part of the evening. Our bartender, Mike, was great, as was the small crowd wedged in the tiny bar (the restaurant is expansive — including dockside dining on warmer nights — but was mostly empty, probably because it was pretty early).
Take a look at this 1978 ad for Lenny’s — the free glass of wine deal is still on, though there are no longer multiple locations.
The Lenny’s signs are classic neon red, with a lovely script and those great double-dimples where the tubes dive back behind the façade. Nothing fancy, but totally perfect. Unfortunately the “clam” in the vertical “clam bar” wasn’t working (though a sign on the side announced the molluskular presence), but otherwise it was in excellent shape.
We adjourned after eating too much free bruschetta along with our beer and oysters (and mystery appetizer) a couple of blocks north to New Park Pizza, where most of the building is taken over by the kitchens, but there’s a glass-enclosed row of picnic tables in front where you can sit and eat your slice while you watch the customers come and go while the staff vociferously debates the relative merits of various sodas and greets nearly everyone who comes in by name. A real neighborhood joint that’s been around since the ’50s.
The sign combines simple san-serif pink outlined letters (I’m surprised they didn’t stick with a tricolore palette) with a large, steaming, inexplicably green-outlined pizza. It’s fantastic. And the steam flashes! The whole thing reminds me a bit of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, in a good way.
I’m so happy to see both these Queens institutions going strong.
Jackson Hole Airline Diner
(Astoria Blvd btwn Hazen & 70th Streets)
Aha! Yes! Two people guessed correctly — Heather (by comment) & juliadantchev (with a reblog comment). I *think* Heather was first, but I’m not positive. I’d also like to say thanks to Ben K. for reminding me that I hadn’t yet gotten here.
Jackson Hole is a local chain of burger joints, and this particular location was, in a past life, the Airline Diner. The name makes sense when you realize how close it is to LaGuardia — just off the Grand Central Parkway a few blocks away. The older part of the sign with the green airplane (alas, not in 100% full glow) blends right in with the airplanes overhead.
Not all the neon was in full glow when I was there, but most of it was operational. The Greek key pattern around the fascia of the diner in blue with yellow highlights is lovely and dinery, the animation (if you can’t see it above look here) on one sign features tiny airplanes while the other alternates green and pink for DINER. So great! And the Jackson Hole part of the sign isn’t bad either (if a bit incongruous). I like that there’s a period after Jackson Hole. For some reason punctuation in a neon sign always makes me happy.
I can’t say the burger was anything to write home about. It was, as advertised, big and greasy. Not a lot of flavor though. I think next time I come (and I’d like to get some better photos), I’ll stick with diner classics like milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches.
The interior, by the way, is as beautiful as the exterior. All kinds of great details from pillowed stainless steel to an ancient Just Born case (sadly bereft of peeps, though it did contain other candy).
The other Jackson Hole Diner location in Queens also has some neon (though not as great as this), so I’ll hit it up sometime, too.
Where is it?
Detail No. 4.
Okay, okay — this has to be a giveaway, right? Now you know where all these photos are, yes? Enter your guess in the comments below or email me at heyprojectneon at gmail with the borough and business name. Tomorrow I’ll post the photo that really gives it all away.
What you can’t quite make out below “DINER” is “BEER PARKING,” a really ace set of amenities, especially in New York City, where parking (if not beer), is in perennially short supply.
PS: if you can’t see the animation above, look here.
Where is it?
Detail No. 3
Is it coming clear yet? Can you guess where this neon can be found (business name & borough)? (I can’t get the Tumblr answers thing to work, so you can use the comments below or email me at heyprojectneon at gmail.) The first person who looked at this in Flickr *may* have noticed a tag or two that gave it away before I deleted them — I’m still getting the hang of Lightroom!
This photo gives you some context for the two previous details. Tomorrow I’ll post an image that’s even more distinctive, though this seems to be the only neon Greek key pattern I’ve photographed (though I thought I had seen one before… can’t seem to find it). Anyone know of others?
While you’re mulling over this neonerific location, here’s some miscellaneous neon news, some of which I’ve already posted to Twitter:
• Hinsch’s is once again for sale. Someone needs to give me all the money so I can buy it.
• Neon art in Paris. Thanks Rob B.
• Tomorrow night I’ll be at Urban Omnibus’ art auction, and I’ve donated a limited edition print of Hinsch’s.
• Did you notice that the Project Neon Flickr set has passed 1,000 photos? That’s a lot of neon! I’d guess that’s around 750 to 800 separate places though, alas, I have not been keeping track of that.
OK, that’s all the news for now. Back to the game: can you name this neon?
Where is it?
Detail No. 2
I’ll keep giving more clues until someone guesses the business name & borough where this neon can be found. You can see above I was there on a rainy night, but where is there? Enter your guess as an answer or a comment below.
Can you put this detail together with the first clue to figure out where this neon is located?
Funeral Home Neon around New York
These are the working funeral home neon signs I’ve found so far. Are there more I’m missing? I know there were more in the past…
I don’t know why, but I particularly love these. Maybe because they were unexpected neon trope to me until I started this project (even though one of them is in my own neighborhood, and I’d looked at it many times without thinking about it.)
Anyone know of any others?