Upper East Side Shoe Repair Shops
(For names and locations, see the Neon Shoes set on Flickr)
I’m dealing with a lot extra-curricular crap at the moment, including heartbreak and a dead fridge, so I’m a bit behind on everything, including Project Neon posts. I’ll try to catch up over the next few days.
First up: a couple of weekends ago I went on a photo walk on the Upper East Side. I was particularly hunting one of my favorite types of neon signs: shoe repair shop signs.
I know they’re probably off the shelf as often as custom made (and I usually vastly prefer custom neon), but there’s something so charming about the giant shoes, even when they’re anatomically imposible. I also love how New Yorkish they are — we need a lot of shoe repair with all the pavement pounding we do.
John’s, (which I made a proper visit to last year) above, is probably my favorite for it’s colorful minimalism, but Sam’s is great, too, especially when you see it together with the other half, also featuring curly eses. The giant Andrade loafers are also excellent. So many great neon shoes, boots, heels, and more.
I know there are a jillion more of these signs, both on the Upper East Side and elsewhere. I need to have more neon shoe walks to hunt down as many of these as I can find. Unfortunately as you can see above, many of them are behind bars by the time darkness sets it, so it may be next winter before I really get the photo set filled in properly.
Last night I bundled up, packed my binoculars, and subwayed over to Battery Park to see the comet. It was frigid, but the sunset was lovely, and I made the happy discovery that the Colgate Clock is back on over in Jersey. So an expedition there soon if I can work out the logistics. Or maybe I’ll wait until it’s a *little* bit warmer.
John Shoe Repair
(On the Upper East Side on 67th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues)
The cobblers of New York City are a wonder. Operating out of shoe-box sized shops, each packed with the detritus of a lifetime of repairing our worn-out footwear, the enable us to keep pounding the pavement in style. There must have once been so many more of them, in the era before sneakers and the rise of disposable fashions, but there are still a good number today. And a good number of them have neon signs, usually small skeleton signs hanging in the window like this one, but with a wide variety of shoe types from boots to high heels. When winter comes (these one-man operations (are there any women cobblers in New York?) tend to close early), I’d like to finally take a shoe-neon-only walk, and gather a whole poster’s worth of neon shoes.
I dropped my shoes off this afternoon with John. I inadvertently wore through the heels (and nearly through the soles) last winter. I hope he can fix them. I’ll find out tomorrow. If he can, it will have been a bargain — $5!
Half of his tiny shop was filled with a massive shoe lathe that looked like some kind of intricate contemporary sculpture. The other half, more assemblage, featured piles of hardened glue, scraps of leather, and bits and pieces of this and that, with assorted pliers and punchers and whatnot here and there. I would have been claustrophobic to spend too long there, but for a brief visit it was wonderfully quiet and private and soothing, all earthy browns and cozines, with the iconic pink and green shoe glowing softly out the window. Here is New York, alive and busily industrious.
PS: Happy birthday to my mom today!
PPS: Did I tell you? I started a new project to explore New York by daylight: apicnicineverypark.tumblr.com
UPDATE: Shoes look great! When I picked them up, John told me, I think, about his forthcoming trip to Athens (where he apparently hails from), where it is even hotter than it is here, though of course everyone leaves the city when it gets too hot, or goes swimming (communicated largely through miming breast stroke). He is very nice and an excellent cobbler and you should take your shoes there. Oh, and be prepared for the overwhelming smell of shoe polish when you open the door.