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.
(In Times Square on Broadway @ 49th)
RIP, Colony Music (aka Colony Records, aka The Colony, etc.) The store is giving up its corner in Times Square for an internet-only existence. Times Square is the poorer for it.
When I hauled myself over there after physical therapy on Wednesday evening for one last visit, I realized it had been a long time since I’ve visited — making music isn’t a part of my life the way it used to be. It was a trip down memory lane to be there, though. Everything from fake books to violin études that I’ve owned (they’re probably all still in boxes somewhere here) were piled in dusty bins along with all kinds of printed music, including cheesy organ arrangements of sappy mid-century songs, marches popular in 1910, entire books of guitar music from bands I mostly really can’t stand, and much, much more. Though I don’t use it any more, there’s comfort for me in sheet music, though I realize that makes me a bit of a dinosaur (how many people even know how to read music these days?), especially when we’re talking not just about notes on staves, but about notes on staves on paper. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of what was on offer in the store is available for free on the interwebs these days.
The shop did offer some other things including music-related memorabilia, musicals on DVD, karaoke CDs, and more, but the sheet music always seemed the heart of the operation.
Or really, it was the neon. The neon COLONY letters outside were still glowing strongly on Wednesday when I visited — still animated to spell the store’s name out one at a time, then blink, then go dark, then start over. Which letter is your favorite?
Alas, the jumping girl (“I found it at the Colony!”) who held aloft the prize vinyl she had unearthed in the store’s basement record section, was already missing when I was there. Just a gap in the wall where she used to be. I wonder where she ended up? I hope she found a good home.
The employees were in a somber mood, and didn’t seem to welcome the many well-wishers who offered their condolences. I can’t blame them — finding a job these days is harder than finding a piece of sheet music in a disorganized bin. So I purchased my copy of 42nd Street without comment and walked outside to take one last look at my favorite corner in Times Square. I could feel I was about to start crying — silly, I know, for just some glowing glass tubes and an anachronistic shop on a valuable piece of real estate, but there it was — so I turned away and descended into the subway with my photos and my memories. If there’s no room for Colony in today’s New York City, I can’t help wondering how much longer there will be room for the rest of us dinosaurs.
There’s a documentary about Colony in the works. You can support it here:
Plenty of people have been writing about the end of the Colony shop recently. Here are a few:
(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.
RIP HInsch’s Confectionery
on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge
I am heartbroken to report that I learned this morning from the Coney Island History Project that Bay Ridge institution Hinsch’s Confectionery has gone dark. There was little warning, and I myself was planning to visit again soon to get some better photos (here’s the post from my visit last winter). Alas, unless an enlightened owner willing to pay top dollar for the rent and keep the beautiful sign lit is found, I fear the sign will end up in the scrapyard. Is there some neon angel who will save the day? I wish I had the funds to relight both signs and reopen this beautiful luncheonette myself. New York is a sadder, dimmer place.