This is the first installment of my visual journal of changing New York City. The 12 year administration of Mayor Bloomberg ushered in many benefits including the High Line and the end of smoke-filled restaurants, but a development boom erased many signs of the City’s storied and gritty past. I’ve been photographing the old signs of Manhattan and surrounding boroughs since I moved here in 1984, many of which have vanished. Below you will find an annotated key to the various locations I’ve documented.
1. Hinches Ice Cream Parlor, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. When I learned that this historic ice cream parlor with its old neon sign was closing I took the subway to Brooklyn to photograph it.
2. New York Times headquarters, West 43rd Street, Manhattan. I was thrilled to get a shot of the facade of the old New York Times headquarters just days before they took the old lamps down.
3. Espo Gum, near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Midtown Manhattan. This is not a commercial sign, but rather it is grafitti by an artist named Stephen Powers. Last I looked the Espo sign was still visible but the old Diner sign had come down.
4. Old Yankee Stadium, Bronx. This view was taken weeks before demolition of the old stadium.
5. Albert Weiss Jewelry, 37th Street in Midtown Manhattan. Only a small part of this sign is now seen peeking from a new hotel built on an adjacent parking lot.
6. All Boro Typewriters and Adding Machines, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Back when I owned a care in Manhattan I found this sign in Williamsburg. I don’t know if it’s still there.
7. Twelfth Street Books, Greenwich Village, Manhattan. A silent witness to the many bookstores that once offered hours of quiet browsing in Manhattan.
8. Motorists Wise Simoniz, West Chelsea, Manhattan. Another remnant of Manhattan’s gritty past, now covered by a luxury high-rise near the West Side Highway in Chelsea.
9. Ribbon Mills Corp, 29th Street, Manhattan. This old factory building is next door to the Little Church Around the Corner, and once had dozens of signs advertising the businesses inside. The signs were covered by a huge high rise luxury building.
10. Pork & Provisions, West 14th Street in Meat Packing District, Manhattan. I took this shot as the Meat Packing district gave way to designer shops. This gritty area is now an international tourist destination.
11. Peep Show, Sixth Avenue in Chelsea, Manhattan. The last of the peep shows in Midtown Manhattan. You can see a worker inside the store scraping off the old lettering.
12. Orchard Street Handbags, Allen Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan. A testament to the discount garment stores on the Lower East Side, this flaking sign was on a building that is now demolished.
13. New York Magazine, Madison Avenue, Midtown Manhattan. This neon sign gave way to one that advertises the new Burberry headquarters in Manhattan.
14. New York Central, High Line in Chelsea, Manhattan. This railroad trestle has been painted over and cleaned up for the High Line, and the barbed wire is long gone.
Art, Poetry, and Contemplation at the Howl
The Meat Packing District in Black & White
A Glimpse of Manhattan After 9/11
Manhattan Loses an Artistic Landmark
9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and a Weeping Willow Tree