RIP Harold’s Pharmacy neon
(on Macdonald Ave @ Avenue U in Gravesend, Brooklyn)
This is one of those days when I seriously consider just finally ending this project. I started the project to celebrate New York’s neon, but I feel like now I’m just mourning the losses.
The New York Neon blog has broken the sad news that Harold’s neon will glow no more in Gravesend. (The blog also had a great post recently about the history of the sign.) I’m extra sad because this is another great sign I don’t have the best pictures of (it’s a tricky corner, a long sign, and some letters were out when last I visited.)
Harold’s is still in business, and the neon tubes are encased behind the new LED sign, but it’s no longer a special corner worth a visit. *sigh* I have nothing against LED lights for some uses and nothing against Helvetica (which despite its overuse is still a well-designed font), but this is a real loss of something special, something unique, and something beautiful that was free and open to anyone passing by to see. I understand that shop owners can’t or don’t want to spend the money for maintaining neon — I wish we could somehow help subsidize this. Heaven knows my pockets aren’t deep, but I’d sure kick in a few bucks to help keep the unique signs of NYC glowing.
One small spot of good neon news, though, from Gothamist, who report that the rumors of Arthur’s Tavern’s death are greatly exaggerated. I hope it does outlive us all!
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.
Farewell Rodeo Bar
Closing Sunday July 27, 2014
on 3rd Avenue at 27th Street in Kips Bay
I was disappointed to hear of the impending closure of honky-tonk venue Rodeo Bar on Third Avenue, and went out a couple of weeks ago to photograph the sign. I was further disappointed to find the sign engulfed in scaffolding, though by standing across the street only somewhat in the line of traffic, I was able to get most of it. Sadly, my only other photo is not quite in the full dark, though it does show the colors a little better:
I assuaged my disappointment by visiting a nearby favorite afterwards, which I’ll post about soon.
It’s been a while since I visited Rodeo Bar, but that’s just because I haven’t been going out and about at night much lately, not because of any lack in the bar. They showcase (for a couple more days) honky-tonk music, proffer free peanuts, and keep their kitchen open late. All in all a festive and fun place to hang out.
Farewell Rodeo Bar — the city will be darker without you.
The end is here — Kiosk has been evicted and tomorrow, Saturday March 8th, is their last day. There is a farewell party starting at 7p. I don’t know what state things will be in tomorrow (they may have started packing up already), but I’m going to stop by at some point to bid farewell to one of my favorite places in SoHo. They do have an excellent web site, and will undoubtedly find another IRL incarnation (hopefully with the great neon!), but I’ll miss their second floor Spring Street space.
Cork & Bottle (detail)
in Lennox Hill on 1st Avenue between 63rd and 64th Streets
The Cork & Bottle is still there on 1st Avenue, but sadly they ditched their beautiful old neon (including this memorable ampersand) for a crappy vinyl sign. My heart breaks a little every time I walk by.
on Fresh Pond Road at Cypress Hills Street & 69th Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens
Oh hi there. I hope you guys have been enjoying the old photos I’ve been queuing up. It’s been nice to feel like I haven’t completely abandoned the neon, even when I’m having a crappy week. I do hope I’ll have the energy to get out and take some new photos soon, but this week has been a bit rough health-wise, so I’m not sure how soon it might be.
At any rate, here’s an actual post with some actual news. The most important thing is that you should tell Erikc Austin and Jason Kleinmann, who have taken over the old Casky’s Tavern space in Ridgewood to open a new bar, that they should keep the sign. I hope they will! We’ve visited Caskey’s before. Apparently the bar has been closed for a while (a couple of months, I think?), but I haven’t been back to verify. It’s kind of a kitschy sign — not a style of lettering I’m usually interested in — but for whatever reason I love it. I love the colors, the distinctiveness of it, and the straight forward “TAVERN.”
I most especially love that flaming green goblet. I like to think of it as the Goblet of Fire from Harry Potter, but then that’s just me.
More about the new owners and their plans at the Village Voice website.
In other news, Lost City reports that D’Aituto has closed. RIP.
And Gothamist reports that Lolita has closed as well. Damn.
OK, back to our regularly scheduled queued posts. I apologize to those of you whose emails I have not answered. I hope to catch up soon!
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: