Farewell Subway Inn
Closing about August 15th, 2014 (hopefully relocating)
in Midtown on 60th Street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues
It looks like the ax is finally falling on the inimitable Subway Inn bar across from Bloomingdales in Midtown. Their Facebook page says that they will be closing around August 15th, though they hope to relocate. Here’s hoping they find a way to take their wonderful neon sign with them.
The subtle curve of “Subway,” the angle of “Inn,” the multiple “Bar”s — this sign is a true classic. I often think about trying to make a font out of specific neon signs — this is the one I’d start with. The bar itself was loud and crowded, but still a wonderful oasis from the sea of chain stores and boring office towers in Midtown. New York City is losing its dives, its grit, and its glow all too rapidly. Subway Inn, I hope you’re able to recreate all of it in a new home.
I’m feeling a little cabin-feverish as the next winter precipitation event (snow or rain?) heads this way, so let’s head afield with this photo from Milkwaukee, circa 2009. Alas, I can’t find the name of the motel (this was before I began Project Neon, so wasn’t always as meticulous about recording the names of neoned businesses). Do you know what it is? I think it was on the south side of the city, near the airport on 41 or 94 before they merge. There were some nice hand-painted signs as well.
This neon is simple, but I like it. The clean lines of the gable set off the unchanneled glow nicely, and it has all the warmth a weary traveler could hope for.
I wish I could take some neon road trips soon, but I don’t really trust myself to drive at the moment with my muscle cramps, migraines, and occasional vertigo. Plus I’m still tired a lot, so I’m not sure how much fun a lot of driving would be. For now I’ll just keep looking through my travel photos and enjoying the glow closer to home.
Do you know the name of this mysterious Milwaukee motel?
I finally made it with my camera to visit to beautifully restored neon at The Long Island Bar on Atlantic Avenue (I’ve been repeatedly foiled by the never ending snowstorms, among other things). I was feeling more Hopper than Toulouse-Lautrec, so I contented myself with peering in the windows rather than joining the animated crowd inside, but the interior looks almost as lovely as the exterior (you can read a review of the bar — it’s not a restaurant at all despite the sign — in The New Yorker). Of course the particular charm of the original is gone, but the glow, inside and out, is as bright as ever.
The Long Island Bar sits near the BQE on the south side of Atlantic Avenue at Henry Street, so technically is in Cobble Hill, I guess, though I’ve always thought of it as part of Brooklyn Heights. Whichever neighborhood it’s in, I’ll definitely go back sometime soon when it’s not a busy Saturday night and I’m not feeling so solitary. Still, though, the neon’s a treat, and I salute the new owners for bringing back the pink & green glow. You can read all about the ace restoration job by Let There Be Neon on the New York Neon blog.
One of the things I especially love about this sign is that on the Atlantic Avenue side Long Island is spelled out (in lovely script — I’ve always been partial to this style of cursive letter “I”), and on the Henry Street side it’s just LI:
It’s such a clever way of dealing with uneven facade lengths and emphasizing the primary facade without neglecting the side. As I’ve said before I’m a fan of pink & green in neon (though not so much elsewhere), and I always love the combination of script and block letters, especially when the block letters are as elegant as this with curve-topped As and drop-waisted Es. Add in the wonderful rotated column for BAR and some stainless steel, and it’s all pretty perfect.
While there I couldn’t help revisiting Montero down the street. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t sing its praises again, but it’s another sign I really, really love. (For more of the history that connects the two bars, read this article from 2006 in the New York Times.) If we could just get a couple more similarly spectacular neon signs on this stretch of Atlantic (and maybe tone down the floodlights at the gas station across from the Long Island Restaurant), it could be a real neon delight.
2014 Project Neon Calendar
Maybe for sale next week on Etsy
Hey, so I was thinking I needed a little wall calendar for next year, so I made this one. Maybe you would like one, too? It’s 4” x 6”, printed on heavyweight specially coated matte paper with archival inks. You can hang it with a binder or bulldog clip (or a magnetic bulldog clip), put it in a frame (if it’s under glass, you can write on it with an erasable pen!), use double-sided tape to mount all 12 at once, or just tack it to the wall. I had thought of getting out the jig saw and making a fancy stand, but in the interests of keeping things simple, I thought I’d just let you sort out how to hang it, OK? If I hear some rumblings of interest, I’ll aim to get it listed by next weekend on Etsy, probably for about $25 (a bargain for 12 lovely neon photos!), plus a couple bucks for domestic shipping.
Is this something that would interest you?
Hey, I actually did a proper neon visit for a change. I can see that the photo-only format is pretty popular (I know the internet likes cats, but I had no idea it liked cats this much!), but here are a few words for you.
I love this sign, which although not technically on the sidewalk is visible from it. I love that it’s entirely abstract, and that it’s exuberantly colorful. I especially love it in the context of the dim, grotty loft interior. It’s the perfect beacon to guide you to a wonderful shop.
Kiosk is definitely my favorite shop in SoHo — more like a museum of design where you can buy things. But unlike most such places, the stuff is all very affordable. There are usually a couple of things over $100, but most of the stock is much less and many of the objects are under $20. I picked up two great drinking glasses, only $6 each! I may have to go back for the larger size.
The assortment at Kiosk rotates regularly, and is generally a selection of objects from one particular country, with a few ongoing all-time hits from previous collections.
It sounds like Kiosk won’t be able to hang on in Soho much longer, so visit while you can. Look for the hot pink arrow outside. (I love the way the arrow’s corners turn — you can see it better from the side.)
Look in and the sign below will give you a clue that the graffiti-covered stairs are all part of the plan. There’s more cool neon inside the shop, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself.