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.
6 Train Neon: Pelham Bay, Parkchester, East Harlem, and Gramercy
There were a few disappointments in my 6 Train neon hunt, but also some lovely discoveries. I love Beauty, above, from WA Beauty Supply just outside the northernmost stop of the 6 train in the Bronx (I think I might try printing it out to see if it would be a good addition to the Etsy shop). Lorraine’s Bar & Grill, which I spotted from the train (it’s above-ground for the last stretch, was a happy discovery, and it was nice to finally see the lovely sign for the original branch of Patsy’s in East Harlem.
Friendly Motor Inn
(In Williamsbridge, The Bronx, on East Gun Hill Road btwn Boston Road & Laconia Avenue)
Oh, you guys, I’ve been sick the last few days and thus am mightily behind on everything. Partly due to the unreliable peregrinations of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, partly due to frigid temperatures, I wasn’t able to make it in time to make a proper visit to the places I’ve visited in Brooklyn & The Bronx before catching this durn cold, but I’ll show you a few pictures anyway. Here’s the first catch-up entry, about my visit to The Bronx one recent frigid night.
No, I did not check into the Friendly Motor Inn… I’m a fan of cheap and even, some would say, sleazy motels, but this one was a little too colorful even for me. I do love the classic look of the sign, though — not one I would have expected to see within New York City limits. In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I purposely framed the shot to eliminate the less attractive lit part above.
The motel sign was a happy discovery, but the sign I went to Williamsbridge to photograph was, sadly, only 50% working. It’s still a great sign, though: The Palomba Academy of Music:
A cheerful sign for what looks like a cheerful seller & teacher of musical instruments. Two kids dragged parents past me as I photographed, eager for music. I hope to see the sign in full glow sometime soon.
There were a couple of other small signs nearby, but it was too cold for me explore too far, and in truth there are only so many creepy old men muttering things at me I can take in one night (luckily I wore my giant goofy hat with earflaps so I have no idea what any of them said), so I packed it in and headed south.
On the way back I made two stops in Harlem, one to find an unlit sign I’ll show you some time when I find it lit, the other to finally see the Harlem YMCA sign alight:
For some reason I had not realized there was a second part up top (2nd photo) when I had seen the sign in the day time. It’s a great beacon glowing across the neighborhood. And I really like the lower sign (the 1st photo) with its slightly seriffed, not a common choice for neon.
OK, a couple more entries to follow — probably tomorrow — including one with a proper neon visit. See you then!
(on East Tremont Avenue at Park Avenue in Tremont, the Bronx)
I was supposed to go to Staten Island last night in search of the couple of neon signs I believe are still glowing there (tips welcome!), but a variety of circumstances conspired to delay me. I did, however, have time to make the trek to Frank’s in the Bronx, with a very quick stop at Mishkin’s Drugs in Sugar Hill, Harlem.
I love this arrow hanging out over the corner of 145th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. I saw it up the hill (I guess that’s Sugar Hill?) as soon as I came out of the subway and instantly knew which way to go. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to stop in (once I’d finished the photos they were closing up), so I dashed back down to the subway and up to the Bronx. Frank’s actually sits right at a MetroNorth train stop, but it’s a bit of a walk from the subway. I darted over there as fast as I could since I was cutting it close, but wshew, I made it just in time. Alas, again I couldn’t go in as the gates were down, but the signs were still aglow. I’ll have to go back another time to see the inside.
The neon is on two sides of a corner, with a square sign hanging out over the sidewalk. Unfortunately both the square sidewalk section and an additional part of the building facade sign is covered in plastic (ugh! though you can see inside the plastic from the side), but the corner section, with a fish and a gun, is glowy from the plastic, and most of the facade signage is magnificent neon tubing. I love the tall F and the long tail of the S. Beautiful!
I found more great neon over on Arthur Avenue. My favorite was:
At Egidio Pastry I indulged my weakness for pignoli nut cookies and left clutching a small paper sack of them. I saw more neon in the neighborhood (including Umberto’s, Madionia Brothers Bakery (love the wheat!), and Valentin Cigars) — Arthur Avenue is great! I’d never been there before and will definitely visit again. After that I took a walk over to Grand Concourse to see what is very likely the oldest working sign in New York, on the Lowe’s Paradise Theatre:
Well, that’s more than enough neon for one night, yes? Next time I’ll do my usual single sign blog entry, but there were too many great signs from my neon walk last night not to share several. You can see the whole selection over on Flickr (now over 700 photos!) I’ll be updating the app database soon to include at least a couple of these from last night.
(on City Island, on Bridge Street between City Island Avenue & Minnieford Avenue)
[Psssst! There’s a new donate page above and a link in the sidebar if you’d like to buy me a beer… or a lobster!]
I knew there was some neon on City Island, but wow, there is a LOT of neon out there. And some of it will take you straight back to the 80s, especially when there is a guy at a keyboard singing the theme from Bosom Buddies (that was at Sammy’s Shrimp Box, if memory serves). My favorite was the one pictured above, for the City Island Lobster House (you can get there by land or by sea—they have their own pier!) I have a couple of quibbles with it: first, why did they put plastic over what I’m pretty sure is neon lettering? It would be so much more awesome as a 100% neon sign. Quibble two is that so much of the lobster neon is burnt out. Please fix this, Lobster House people! I want to
stare for hours at appreciate the animated right claw! Pinch!…Pinch!…Pinch!
These are quibbles, though—it’s a great sign. I love the way the lobster’s infill works, and especially how the dots that anchor the neon look like speckles on a lobster shell. The sign is huge—it’s on the roof of the lobster house—and greets you to the left as you cross the bridge onto City Island.
Inside the Lobster House are many other neon things, including a neon-outlined stuffed fish (and a neon-outlined biplane). Is this a thing? Or a thing on City Island? Because this wasn’t the only neon-outlined stuffed fish (or the only neon-outlined biplane).
I have to say the restaurant itself didn’t blow me away, but I didn’t indulge in the specialty of the house (lobster, duh), so it’s not really fair of me to judge. My budget runs more toward Johnny’s Reef Restaurant at the other end of the Island, which serves up what may be the cheapest beer in New York under this neon sign (the rest of the place has great signs, but alas, no other neon), as well as fried anything.
Sammy’s empire toward that end of the island features some kick-ass neon. I especially loved the sign for Sammy’s Shrimp Box’s parking lot. This fish has some crazy eyes. Sammy’s Fish Box had a good sign as well, and there was a bunch of neon inside and in the windows I didn’t catch. Crustaceans are a popular subject for neon around the island (and they go well with classic neon red). I also loved the sign for the Lobster Box (though it was difficult to photograph). Check out that slinky S!
If you don’t know about City Island at all, you should make the pilgrimage. It is ineffable. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass to get there without a car (thanks for driving, Paul!), but it’s still worth making the trek, whether by Zipcar or bus. Or sailboat. It’s a scene in the summer.
At the end of the night we swung over to the South Bronx to check out the Bruckner Bar & Grill, which has a big vertical sign visible from the Major Deegan Expressway. Sadly, a major neon malfunction had occurred earlier at the corner of Bruckner Boulevard and Third Avenue, so the sign is going to be out for a bit. The owner, happily, is committed to getting it fixed, though. I’ll try again another time. Which reminds me—know any other good neon in the Bronx (besides Arthur Ave & Frank’s Sporting Goods, which close too early for summer photos)?