RIP Cork & Bottle
(on First Avenue between E 63rd & E 64th Streets in the Upper East Side)
Sad, sad news shared by Gary Wright: The Cork & Bottle neon was scrapped and replaced by back-lit plastic lettering this morning. This (together with Goldberger’s Pharmacy) was one of the first New York neon signs I photographed and those two signs were really what inspired the whole project. I want to believe it’s not true, but I know I’ll have to see it for myself on Monday morning on the way to work.
That amazing ampersand! That steadfast letter C! The classic vertical Liquors! There was also a tiny unlit “LTD” to the right of Bottle that I loved — a secret little addition I imagined getting relit some day. As I’ve said before, pink is not a color I like much in most of life, but pink neon is really wonderful.
The sign was always a tough one to photograph, with signs, trees, traffic, and the awning in the way, so I don’t feel like I fully did it justice, but it will have to do.
RIP Cork & Bottle neon, you will be missed. New York is a darker place without you.
Zenith Parking Garage
(near Times Square on W 49th Street between 7th & 8th Avenues)
Happy Valentine’s Day, neon lovers! I hope you’re all getting plenty of whatever it is that makes your heart sing.
As we all know, Valentine’s Day has a dark side, too, and the darkened neon around town has been on my mind:
* DNAinfo.com reports that Bruckner Bar & Grill remains closed due to a combination of hurricane damage and landlord dispute. I’ve tried to photograph their great sign several times with no luck (one evening I arrived to find the sign had blown out after a faulty repair earlier that day!) Here’s hoping it lights up again soon.
* Pearl Diner seems to still be closed — no word on when they might reopen.
* Hinsch’s is still for sale — no word on its fate yet.
* No word yet, either, on the fate of the Mitchell’s sign on the Upper West Side.
In other news, images of Tracey Emin’s neon art are on view in Times Square for the three minutes before midnight every night through February. I’m not a huge fan of this style of lettering rendered in neon, and it’s a little ironic to have neon art displayed on LED screens, but still an interesting public art project.
I need your help! Those of you with iPhones running iOS 6.0 or higher, can you let me know what version you’re running (Settings > General > About > Version) and whether the Project Neon iPhone app is running? I’ve had reports that although it doesn’t work in iOS 6.0, it does work in 6.1. Send me an email at heyprojectneon on Gmail. Thanks!
The image at the top is a recent re-shoot of the Zenith Parking Garage sign. It’s small and only lit on one side, but I love the way the blank brick wall captures the rich red glow. That’s neon at its best: a bright spot in the darkness.
(in Bay Ridge on 5th Avenue btwn 86th & 86th Streets)
As many of you have probably heard (and as I posted recently on Twitter & Facebook), it looks like Hinsch’s is in danger again — the new owners are leaving at the end of February. What happens next is anybody’s guess.
I haven’t made it out there since the new owners took over, and I have to admit being annoyed they used my photos without permission, but I do wish they could have made it work. I’ll definitely be heading out in the next month to bid farewell, again, to a New York institution.
Speaking of New York institutions, I’ve heard that the Lenox Lounge has reopened a few blocks away from the original location. No word yet on the fate of the signage. The picture of the old location with the sign & facade stripped away is heartbreaking.
Speaking of signs in jeopardy, I’m still working on getting a hold of the owner of Mitchell’s Wine & Liquor to verify the story that they’re ditching the historic sign. Anyone who wants to help with research or contacting them, let me know.
I still haven’t heard anything more about the Pearl Street Diner. Anyone downtown have any more info?
(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 Franklin Avenue @ Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Brooklyn)
Terrible news from Brownstoner — the Maimain’s Pharmacy sign on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, and the business behind it, is completely gone. Does anyone know what became of it? I’m still holding out a wild hope that this is a late April Fool’s Photoshop prank or the sign is out for repair… very, very unlikely, I know.
I’m really heartbroken — it was such a great sign, and one of the early Project Neon visits. User Mhuntm commented on the original Project Neon post:
FYI… My father and uncle were the founders and owners of Maiman’s in the 1950’s. Up until a few years go, my brother owned and ran the store. When it was in the family, the sign was always maintained. Guess the new owners are not as committed.
I kept meaning to stop back again with my camera to see if I could catch the sign in better shape, but sadly never got around to it. I will miss that sign — Brooklyn is a darker place without it.