in Kips Bay on 2nd Avenue at 34th Street
To console myself for the bad New York neon news lately, I revisited Clover Deli, an early favorite (you can read the old post here). I was overjoyed to see the usually ad-splashed over-lit public phone thingy (what do you call those things that aren’t proper phone booths?) completely dark. Finally! An opportunity to get a decent distraction-free photo of one of New York’s brightest.
Of course I also photographed House of Wine & Liquor on the corner (famous to, well, me not only for its great vertical sign (with an excellent arrow), but also its exchange neon in the window), and managed to capture both in the third photo above with a little clever traffic dodging. I should probably take along a spotter for photos like that.
I feel obliged to mention here that one of my biggest pet peeves in urban photography is people who stitch together photos or do extensive cloning to hide things like bus stops or phone booths. You’ll see a lot of photos of Clover with nothing in front of it, and if you look closely, you can usually spot multiple vanishing points. So disappointing!
Clover is a Project Neon favorite for many reasons including the classic pink and green, the Greek Es, and the curl on the C. They also have excellent black & white cookies, but I skipped those this time — the continued glow on the corner of 34th and Second was enough to put a smile on my face.
(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.
(On Second Avenue @ 34th Street)
I love the Clover Delicatessen sign, which I discovered while riding a bus—not something I do every day. It must have been fate. What a font! The Greek E in Clover, the curved ends on V and C, all perched atop the straightforward Delicatessen. Plus the facade has great green enamel panels (which nicely play off of the green glow of Clover) and stainless steel detailing. All around aces.
After an epic walk from work on Friday night (up to 77th for rye bread at Orwasher’s, then back down to Clover) I stopped in for a much needed refreshment—one of Clover’s famous black & white cookies. Unlike most examples of New York City’s signature cookie, Clover’s is cakey and delicious rather than a flat, dry thing more aerodynamic than delectable. The only problem with the cookie is that it’s nearly the size of a cake, so next time I’m gonna have to bring someone to share it with—maybe on the way to a movie down the street.
Another fun fact about Clover Deli is that around the corner is the House of Wine and Liquor which has, as many liquor stores in New York do, a neon window sign advertising their delivery service and including their number. The cool thing is that the number has an exchange: LExington2-0980. I’ve seen other signs around New York with exchanges (there used to be tons of EVergreen numbers painted around Williamsburg), but never in a neon sign.