Thursday, March 31, 2016

Brand’s Wine & Liquors located on W.145th Street has been in business since the 1920s.

Moon Lee, the current owner, bought the store in 1980 from the original owner's grandson. When we interviewed Me. Lee in 2004 he told us that, "the big ‪#‎neon‬ marquee sign is from the 1950s and over the past few years, the City has been trying to get me to take the sign down because there is a new law that says that storefront signs can't stick out from the building more than 18 inches. But I don't want to take it down because I realize the historical importance of the sign.So I am fighting the City to keep it. This ‪#‎neonsign‬ is the last of its kind on the block. West 145th Street was once lined with old stores with big marquee's like this one, but little by little the City has forced the owners to remove the signs by giving us summonses and tickets.'

In late 2005, Moon Lee lost his battle with ‪#‎NYC‬ and was forced to remove the ‪#‎sign‬ and replace it with a new plastic flat version. He told us, "the City decided to fine me for the sign retroactively from the time I bought the store. The fine amounted to over $50,000 and I couldn’t afford that so I agreed to remove the ‪#‎signage‬. The removal of the sign was a kind of harbinger of the neighborhood changing. Down comes the past along with the entire character of the neighborhood and in comes ‪#‎gentrification‬. This area was once the outer rim of a ghetto area and now luxury condos are being built and rich people are moving in." ‪

Photo and full interview appear in our book, "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York".

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Thank You Jahn Xavier for the photo of our books STORE FRONT II: A History Preserved & STORE FRONT: The Disappearing Face of New York at the Metropolitan Museum's bookstore in the NEW YORK section!

Paris Shoe Store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn was in business for over 130 years.

Paris Shoe Store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn was in business for over 130 years. The fourth owner of this #shoe store, Rita, told us that she knew about its history because the former owner lived in the neighborhood and would often visit the shop. He claimed that "it was the very first shoe store in all of #Brooklyn". We loved its "lobby" style entrance complete with deep glass showcase windows and the #vintage #signage.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Public Fish Market was the "oldest fish market in Harlem".

We love its amazing #handpainted #signage, both on the storefront and on the front window. Photo taken with 35mm #film in 2004 appears in our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York". Sadly this #fish market is no longer in business (closed in 2006) and the #storefront remains empty to this day.

Monday, March 28, 2016

1968 Pontiac Bonneville and STORE FRONT II: A History Preserved at bookbook on Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, NYC

The Pontiac Bonneville is a full-size automobile which was built by Pontiac from 1957 to 2005. The Bonneville is one of the largest Pontiacs ever built and were also some of the heaviest cars produced at the time (2.5 short tons, 5,000 lb ).
bookbook, an independently owned bookstore (visible in the background) in Greenwich Village, is located at 266 Bleecker Street by Jones Street, and carries both our books Store Front II- A History Preserved and Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York (Mini edition) at the discounted price of 20% off suggested retail. bookbook has been in business since 1984.

Old German Premium Lager Beer, circa 1975

Little "Herman the German" pictured on the can, "grew up watching his Opa and Omi brew beer in their single story stone-cottage located in Hamburg, Germany." In the 1970s, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company acquired the Queen City Brewing Company (1901–1976) of Cumberland, Maryland. The Queen City Brewing Company was also known as the Old German Brewing Company and included the Cumberland Brewing Company (1890–1958), which was purchased by the brewery in 1958. At its peak, the Queen City brewery produced over 250,000 barrels of beer a year in Cumberland. The company prospered during the 1950s and 1960s; however, labor disputes and declining sales caused the Queen City Brewing Company to close in December, 1974, transferring its Old German brand to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company. The Queen City brewery was demolished in April, 1975, ending a combined 152 years of brewing in Cumberland Maryland.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter! Gerstner Cafe, Vienna.

Anton and Barbara Gerstner opened their small pastry shop in Vienna in April 1847. They became known for their fine confectionery and exquisite cakes and were appointed as the Imperial Court Confectioner. This cafe near the Opera House is a popular place to have coffee and their famous cakes, pastries and chocolates.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Normandie Bake Shop in Brooklyn

Normandie Bake Shop in Brooklyn had a great #neonsign complete with #script lettering that at one point must have brought in lots of customers. We could not find out much about the history of this #bakery except that it was known for its black and white #cookies. We hope the relics of this great #neon #sign was saved.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Film Center Cafe in Hell's Kitchen, NY was in business from 1933 to 2011.

The cafe was built in 1932 across from the Film Center Building where all the major #movie studios edited their #films. It had a stainless steel facade and wood #bar dating from its original construction. We were especially fond of its #vintage #neonsign with its blue #neon. Photo from 2001 appears in our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York".

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lufthansa Magazin March 2016

"James T. and Karla L. Murray's photo books about New York's colorful store fronts are melancholy historical documents of a disappearing species... the artist duo have now produced their third book documenting how their hometown has lost much of its old diversity."

Allen's Drugs in South Miami has been in business since 1954.

We got word that the original ‪#‎vintage‬ ‪#‎neonsign‬ has been removed by the owner, Al Collazo, who has owned the store since 1984. Once an old-school ‪#‎pharmacy‬ complete with soda fountain counter, it operates as a ‪#‎diner‬ with a separate ‪#‎drug‬ store adjacent to it. Collazo sold the ‪#‎prescription‬ side of the business to CVS in 2014 so it is possible that they decided the ‪#‎signage‬ no longer fit with their branding. Unfortunately the owner is not commenting on the whereabouts of the iconic ‪#‎sign‬ which is sad because we are sure lots of places including the Museum of Neon Art @neonmona would be interested in preserving the ‪#‎neon‬! ‪

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Trends in photography Panorama: FROOT 03.22.16

Nice article on Panoramic Photography from Froot (Dutch) featuring our Bloomingdale's Lexington Avenue, Bleecker St. b / t Jones & Cornelia Greenwich Village & Astroland Park, Coney Island.

From the window: Signed copies of Store Front II- A History Preserved available at Rizzoli Bookstore in NoMad.

Rizzoli, known as one of the most beautiful independent booksellers in the United States is located at 1133 Broadway near 25th Street. Also available are copies of Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York (Mini edition).

59th Street Bridge, NYC, sunset.

Monday, March 21, 2016

El Brillante Restaurant, Williamsburg Brooklyn. Closed.

El Brillante Restaurant in Williamsburg specialized in #Spanish American #food. We loved its #handpainted #signage with the #script "El Brillante" lettering. We also loved the multi-color lights they had stringing around the #sign. Sadly it has been closed for around 6 years and the #storefront remains vacant to this day. Photo from 2006 appears in our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York" #type #typography #font #fontastic #signgeeks #SignCollective #disappearingfaceofnewyork

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pepsi-Cola neon sign in Long Island City, Queens.

This @pepsi "spectacular" was created in 1936 by the Artkraft Strauss Sign Corp for the Pepsi-Cola bottling plant that was located on this waterfront area of #Queens. The plant was demolished and high-rise residential towers took its place in 2004 but luckily the #neonsign survived and was reinstalled slightly to the north of its original location. This amazing #neon #sign sadly is not landmarked but we hope it continues to survive. #neongeeks #signgeeks #ig_signage #americana #instaamerica_americana #ipulledoverforthis #trb_ipoft_signs #queenscapes #SignCollective #ig_great_shots_nyc #ignyc #WHPpatterns #newyork_instagram #InstagramNYC #myfeatureshoot #newyork_ig

Friday, March 18, 2016

#‎SIGNGEEKS‬: Vintage Neon Photography - Opening reception: Friday, April 1, 2016 at The Museum of Neon Art (MONA)

Museum of Neon Art (MONA) is featuring three of our neon sign photographs along with the work of 60 different Sign Geeks from around the world in their new exhibit:
‪#‎SIGNGEEKS‬: Vintage Neon Photography
The exhibit runs from March 11- June 19, 2016 216 S. Brand Blvd. Glendale, CA 91209 231.489.9918

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tally Ho Pub, The Bronx.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day we are posting an old ‪#‎Irish‬ bar in the Schuylerville neighborhood of the Bronx which was originally a speakeasy during Prohibition. The owners, pictured in the doorway and seated to the front, Eddie and Tom Smith told us that when they took over the ‪#‎bar‬ in the 1970s, they didn't change a thing and left the original mahogany bar. They even showed us an old photo of the bar taken during Prohibition. ‪
#‎happystpatricksday‬ ‪#‎stpatricksday‬ ‪#‎stpattysday‬ ‪#‎luckoftheirish‬ ‪#‎pub‬ ‪#‎storefront‬ ‪#‎disappearingfaceofnewyork‬

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bay Lighting was founded in 1937 in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

The second-generation owner David Marks told us that both the #storefront and #neonsign are original. We love the lobby-style entrance with all of the #antique lighting on display as well as the #script lettering used on the #neon sign. The circle to the right which faded over the years says "Home Decor" and refers to the fact that the store also sold and repaired antique bric-a-bric and had a nice selection of #vintage #clock. Photo from 2004 and full interview appear in our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York".

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Nino's Pizzeria in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Nino's Pizzeria in Crown Heights, Brooklyn is family-owned and operated since 1959. The fantastic #signage was repurposed from a Coca-Cola privilege #sign with #handpainted figures holding a steaming #pizza and another figure carrying a #pie! The second-generation owner Sal told us that his "uncle founded the business and that his mother and brother took over in 2001 but still use the same family recipe brought over from #Italy."

Reading Premium Beer Bicentennial Collectors' Series Can

Reading Brewing Company was an American ‪#‎beer‬ brewing establishment founded by Philip Bessinger in 1886 in Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1976, Reading ceased operations due to increasing pressure from larger macro brewers. The brand changed hands several times until 1999, when it was again retired. In 2009, the Reading label and its recipes were purchased by Ruckus Brewing. In 2011 Reading Premium celebrated it's 125th year. Our can is from 1976, and is one of the companies Bicentennial Collectors' Series cans, featuring the The Star Spangled Banner and Declaration of Independence on the back.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lexington Candy Shop on the Upper East Side has been in business since 1925.

It is the oldest continuously operating luncheonette in Manhattan and is currently owned by third-generation family members. We love this #vintage #neonsign with #script lettering, which the third-generation owner John Philis told us, "this kind of overhanging sign is grandfathered in. The city no longer gives permits for them anymore. Its definitely an asset and helps visibility, which always helps in business."

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Lucky Jewelry, The ‪Bronx‬

Lucky Jewelry in the ‪#‎Bronx‬ has an interesting name and even better ‪#‎signage‬. We love the ‪#‎font‬ used for the main part of the ‪#‎sign‬ and the ‪#‎script‬ lettering used for the ‪#‎neon‬ sign in the window.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Laundromat Brooklyn NYC

This #laundromat in #Brooklyn says it all for us. We love the simplicity of its #signage and the #handpainted part advertising "Wash & Dry Open 7 Days a Week". Photo from 2006 appears in our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York".

Friday, March 11, 2016

Yaffa Cafe St Marks Place East Village. Closed.

Yaffa Cafe closed after 32 years in business in October, 2014. One of the main reasons for its closure was the fact that they could no longer use their backyard for seating as it was not up to the city's present fire codes.
Photo appears in our book "New York Nights", winner of the New York City Book Award 2012.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Garden Hardware Hell's Kitchen, NYC Closed

Garden Hardware on Eighth Avenue by West 48th Street was founded in 1955 and specialized in general and industrial #hardware as well as restaurant supplies and theatrical hardware. We were fond of its colorful #signage. We interviewed the owner Bob Orgel who told us that his "grandfather opened the hardware store to serve the area's many restaurants and theaters. We often sold rigging and lighting to many of the Broadway theaters." Sadly the business closed in 2006.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"Preserving New York City's Mom-and-Pop Shops" by Tracy Kaler

Thank you Tracy's New York Life!

"During our recent chat..., the couple explained how they began photographing New York's storefronts. Also, they're sharing some of the conversations they've had with the mom-and-pop shop owners."

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Store Front II: A History Preserved is a finalist for the 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award!

"Tired of the same old banks, chain drugstores, coffee bars and fast food franchises proliferating in your neighborhood? Savor “Store Front II: A History Preserved, the Disappearing Face of New York” (Gingko Press, $65), by James T. Murray and Karla L. Murray. ...they take a second look, providing not only arresting images of threatened one-of-a-kind enterprises, but also their back stories through interviews with the owners." New York Times Feb. 19, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

THE LUNCHEONETTE on New Utrecht Avenue near 14th Avenue in Borough Park Brooklyn was in business for over 75 years.

The storefront dates back to the late 1920s but was re-fronted in 2007 when it changed ownership. We loved its #vintage Coca-Cola privilege #sign. In the case of the Coca-Cola Privilege Signs, representatives from the company @cocacola or local bottling companies offered retailers a choice of signs in a variety of styles that could be customized by the store owners. The most popular #signs that we have photographed are the Coca-Cola “Goldline” signs named for the rails that the individual letters could be attached to. This #luncheonette had a great example of the Goldline #signage.

To see and read more about Privilege signs we found in NYC please go to @6sqft Urban Lens feature for the entire article:

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Urban Lens: Documenting New York City’s Vanishing Privilege Signs 03.02.16 (James T. & Karla L. Murray for 6sqft)

"Today, they read retro and antique, standing out as a testament to a business’ ability to endure even in the face of the monumental challenges in a city known for its rapid pace of change. When compiling our books on disappearing storefronts, we were immediately drawn to facades that still had these type of signs, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorites."

Stage Restaurant, East Village, NYC Closed

We just got word via the Stage Restaurant Facebook page that the family has now officially closed Stage Restaurant after fighting for months with its landlord to reopen after its gas was shut off following the East Village gas explosion nearby that killed two people, injured 22 others and caused the complete destruction of 3 buildings on Second Avenue. Stage Restaurant had been a "greasy spoon" diner in the East Village for years. It was owned by Roman Diakun since 1980. There were no tables inside, only a long Formica counter with stools for seating. They were known for their diner classics as well as Eastern European specialties including borscht soup and pierogies. Photo 2003 from our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York."

Here is Roman's statement:
"Dear wonderful and loyal customers, fans, friends, and neighbors, It is with bittersweet emotions that we at Stage Restaurant are announcing that we are closing our doors permanently after 35 amazing years. The events of the year have been overwhelmingly devastating on us and we have decided to close the Stage’s door. Over the past year, we have resolved our dispute with the landlord and Icon Realty Management. Stage Restaurant never engaged in any wrongdoing; however, after our prolonged closure and because of the cost to make the repairs and expenses of reopening, we are sad to say that the Stage cannot reopen. It has been our great honor and pleasure to serve and truly be a part of the community over the past 35 years. We are so grateful to all who have made the experience of running this restaurant in such a vibrant, and supportive area of this great city a remarkable and unforgettable journey for us. We will greatly miss our staff, many of which have put as much care and effort into the business as our family has. We would like to thank all of the customers we have had the pleasure of meeting for your business and friendships. Thank you all for your support, your signatures, your donations, and especially your kind words. We could not have realized our passion and love for nourishing and providing a place of comfort and gathering to the community without you all. Your loyalty, support, kindness and love have been a true blessing, and something we will never forget. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts." Roman Diakun

Pink Pony on Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side. Closed.

Pink Pony on Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side was opened in the early 1990s by Lucien Bahaj. This popular #cafe which many artists and bohemians dined at, closed in January 2013 after its rent was increased from $14,000 a month to $20,000 a month. Sadly it became another victim of the gentrification of the neighborhood. We loved its #handpainted #signage and its low key vibe. Photo from 2004 appears in our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York".

An assortment of NEW Prints are now available including this photo! Our limited edition signed prints range in size from 20x24 to 40x50 inches as well as a few select 11x14 prints. All C-prints are printed on Kodak Professional Endura Lustre Paper. Contact us by email or direct message for pricing and more info. Also available are signed copies of both Store Front and Store Front II.‪

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Sock Man on St. Mark's Place - Closed

The Sock Man on St. Mark's Place was in business since 1983 but was forced to close its doors in January due to rising rents. The store specialized in socks, tights, lingerie and accessories and was founded by Marty Rosen. He plans to continue his online business.