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!
Excellent news, neonophiles! The iPhone app is working again! It seems to work with iOS 6.1 or later, though it didn’t work with 6.0. I AM SO HAPPY. Especially since I just spent all my money on an emergency vet visit (Scout is fine now, thank goodness!) and wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for rejiggering the app to work with Apple’s latest hijinks. Now I don’t have to. Yay!
I would really, really appreciate if any of you who have enjoyed the app would go back to the app store and give it a good rating, since a few people who had trouble with it & iOS 6.0 have given it a bad rap. Even if you already rated the original version, you can still rate the updated version (which just had minor changes) separately, since the most recent version’s ratings are what show up most prominently.
Thanks — you’re the best. I ask this not because I will benefit in any way, but because not many people are going to bother downloading an app with only 2 1/2 stars. Yikes!
I’ve been at a bit of a low ebb lately, but I’m finally over that terrible bug that’s been going around. Being sick is so depressing. I’m also doing a lot better on the fibromyalgia front — thanks to everyone who has sent good wishes my way. And since nothing pulls you up like a neon walk, I’m hoping to fit one in later this week.
in Bay Ridge on 5th Avenue between 85th & 86th Streets
I haven’t been to Hisnch’s Confectionery (is that the best name or what?) since it changed hands, and the new owners are looking to sell at the end of the month (*sigh*), so I thought I’d pay visit.
I have to admit I have a bit of a grudge, just a small one, against the current owners for using my photos on the web site and Facebook page without asking, and the vinyl baner blocking the window neon didn’t help, but once I was safely ensconced inside away from the cold with a vanilla milk shake (there’s not much diner food I can eat these days, but happily my ability to digest dairy has not suffered), my mood improved tremendously. Their wasn’t exactly a crowd (maybe 5 people total in the booths in back, and I was the only one at the front counter), but the guys working in the kitchen and at the front counter were cheerfully bantering in Spanish. The two TVs installed in back (ugh) were tuned to the Super Bowl, but the one up front by me was showing a documentary about Grand Central Station, that the front-counter guy was engrossed in and turned up the volume briefly before returning to washing up.
Oddly, the sound system was playing Eye of the Tiger when I came in. Next up sounded suspiciously like Rush, and then “Wayward Son” by Kansas. A little incongruous, but original, I guess.
Of course I’ve written about Hinsch’s before (and photographed it, too), and the giant pink script sign is one of the most iconic of New York. Sadly the vertical sign was a mess, completely dark with broken tubes dangling.
What will happen here next? As I finished my frothy shake and headed back out into the night I turned around to look at the sign one more time. Will I ever see that pink glow again? I hope so…
Las Vegas, 1958
From Shorpy, a really excellent site you should know
I’m having a quiet, restful weekend, but I’m hoping to do a neon visit some time next week.
Some reminders from the neonoverse: if you’re interested in the update to the Project Neon iPhone app, it would help speed things along if you could see your way to donating $1, $2, $5, what ever you feel like throwing in the tip jar. If you’d like to own a piece of neonalia, visit the Project Neon Etsy shop. I’m finishing up a letter C alphablock right now that I’m very pleased with. And if you’d like to keep up with little Project Neon bits and bobs, follow along on Twitter or Facebook.
(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?
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 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!
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.