Friday, December 29, 2023

Lights Out 2023: Signs We Lost This Year

It's that time again, time to shake the dust of this old blog and tally up another year's worth of New York's neon losses.  This year's death toll is a bit higher than that of previous years, sadly, perhaps a measure of what seems to be an intensified development frenzy that has come to grip the city in the wake of the pandemic slowdown. As with previous editions of this post, the list below includes some signs that may have disappeared prior to 2023 but whose loss only came to light (if that's the right word) this year. 

Garry Jewelers, 474 Fifth Av., Park Slope, Brooklyn (c. 1961)

This perfectly-preserved sign and storefront sat more or less abandoned for a decade since the mom-n-pop jewelry store within finally fizzled out sometime around 2010. As hopes dimmed that the place might somehow spring back to life, admirers remained optimistic that a new tenant might come along and seize on the unique retro charm of Garry’s jewel of an intact midcentury commercial facade, one of the best surviving specimens of its type anywhere in the five boroughs.  Alas, Brooklyn correspondent Wayne Heller passed by in February 2023 only to find the place fully gutted and its postcard-perfect storefront completely replaced in anticipation of a new tenant that had yet to appear. 

Neil’s Coffee Shop, 961 Lexington Ave., Upper East Side, Manhattan (c. 1966)

If a place like Neil's Coffee Shop was ever going to disappear, surely it would have done so a long time ago: anything that had survived this long must be here to stay... or so many of us naively hoped.  For all its longevity (it had reportedly opened in 1940) Neil's proved no more enshrined than the most disposable parts of the city's ephemeral landscape when the grim reaper came calling early in 2023. Eater reported that the restaurant owed as much as $1 million in unpaid rent, and the venerable diner met its ignominious end at the hand of city marshals this past April. Its sign was carted off to parts unknown not long thereafter.  The storefront remains vacant at press time. 

Alleva Dairy, 188 Grand Street, Little Italy, Manhattan (1953)

One of the year's more painful losses came this past March when Little Italy's stalwart Alleva Dairy called it quits after a 130-year run, citing an inability to keep up with the rent. The Times reported that the landlord offered to forgive more than $600,000 in unpaid bills if the owners packed up and left quietly.  Alleva did just that, taking its vertical neon blade sign (installed in 1953) along with it. The management announced that the age-old cheese shop would reopen at a new location in Lyndhurst, New Jersey (a move similar to that of Brooklyn's Queen Marie Italian Restaurant, which decamped to Bernardsville previously), but this seems not to have come to pass as of year's end. 

Jack’s Toy Center, 909 Kings Highway, Midwood, Brooklyn (c. 1955)

Having outlived the business it advertised by decades (Jack's had already vanished by the 1980s, per the city's tax photo archive), it seemed the winds of attrition might just have forgotten about this relic sign on King's Highway in Midwood, Brooklyn. No such luck: the sign is now listed on eBay and can be yours for the princely sum of $3,000, if you can coax it down from the second floor perch where it's kept a watchful eye on generations of Brooklynites passing below. 

Old Homestead Steakhouse, 56 9th Ave., Chelsea, Manhattan (c. 1945)

Reportedly founded in 1868 as the Tidewater Trading Post, the Old Homestead bills itself as the "oldest continuously operating steak house in the US," and until last year it had one of the oldest signs in New York to back up the claim. The restaurant survives, but its fantastic luminous beacon - installed c. 1945 in place of an earlier neon sign - has been stripped of its neon and slathered in uninspiring LED sign faces, its owners apparently tired of paying to keep the old contraption alight. 

Pioneer Supermarket, 289 Columbus Ave., Upper West Side, Manhattan (c. 1960)

With its big bold italic letters blasting their neon glow out across Columbus Ave., the Pioneer's unmistakable sign was a favorite landmark among admirers of New York's vanishing midcentury storefronts.  The ancient supermarket is with us still, but its uniquely lovely neon is no more.  The West Side Rag reported on the sign's disappearance back in March.  At the time, the Pioneer's management reassured concerned neighbors that the sign was merely out for repairs, but those proved empty promises when a plastic-faced, LED simulacrum appeared in place of its great neon predecessor a few weeks later. 

Kessler’s Liquors, 23 E 28th St., Midtown, Manhattan (1959)

Kessler's landmark LIQUORS sign was a New York classic, with its generic copy rendered in workaday pre-Helvetica letterforms traced in stainless steel channel letters mounted to a stainless steel raceway, this was among the last of hundreds of signs like it that once could be found all over town. Forced to move to a smaller storefront down the block a few years back, the old wine shop took its sign with it, moving its bold neon letters inside over the checkout counter. Sadly Kessler's reboot was not to last: the shop and sign have now vanished, leaving nary a trace behind. 

Roșie O’Grady, 800 Seventh Av., Midtown, Manhattan (c. 1981)

Though it looked like something that might have been around since the 1930s, Rosie O'Grady's landmark projecting neon only appeared on this prominent corner five blocks above Times Square after the Irish Bar set up shop here in the 1980s. After more than forty years, Rosie's seemed as well ensconced on Broadway as any of the marquee names that frequented the place.  Yet the restaurant closed abruptly in July amid reports of a dispute with its landlord, S.L. Green Realty. Its sign, which seemed an entrenched part of the landscape here, is indeed gone now. Late reports hint at an impending rebirth for Rosie's at a new location around the corner.

Heartland Brewery, 127 W43rd St., Times Square, Manhattan (c. 1995)

Not an especially old sign, Heartland's bold vertical herald was a modern classic, peering out over West 43rd Street just east of Times Square. The sign and restaurant both did a disappearing act in the wake of the pandemic; some decent new neon has lately appeared in its place.

New Amsterdam Theatre, 214 W42nd St., Midtown, Manhattan (1937, alterations 1955)

The New Amsterdam is alive and well but its marquee is neon no more.  Originally opened in 1904, the art nouveau theater's streamlined neon vertical sign appeared when the establishment went from being a live stage theater to showing movies in 1937 (the sign underwent further modifications in the mid-1950s).  As alterations to the original facade, the sign and marquee might have vanished when Disney funded a lavish restoration of the venue in the 1990s, but happily they were kept and restored. They survive today, one of the rare electric signs of any kind that enjoys the protection of city Landmark designation, though this did not keep the sign's animated neon from quietly making way for fake neon LEDs, a development that does not bode well for the future of neon more broadly. 

Papaya King, 179 E 86th St., Yorkville, Manhattan (1964)

For all its charm as one of New York's most appealing neon storefronts, it didn't take a real estate whiz to know that the writing was on the wall for Yorkville's 90-year old hotdog stand known as the Papaya King, whose storefront occupied a tiny, one-story building situated on some of the most expensive scraps of land in the country. The bell finally tolled for the King's modest abode this year when plans for a massive new high-rise were announced for its site. Founded by Gus Poulos back in 1932, the Papaya King had been at its most recent address since 1964. The tiny hotdog shop reportedly found a new home just across Third Avenue, but more than six months after it closed the business has yet to reopen. Its wonderful sign, which figured into a number of previous posts at this blog, remains above the empty storefront at press time, a desecrated husk. 

Starlite Delicatessen, 212 W44th St., Times Square, Manhattan (c. 1984)

Not neon, but deserving of an honorable mention here nonetheless, the Starlite Deli's backlit plexiglas "privilege sign" was typical of the kinds of signs that displaced neon in the streetscape after the 1960s. A small placard mounted to one side marked this as the work of Brooklyn's Salzman Sign Co., once one of the most prominent neon shops in New York, its surviving works including the great assemblage of neon fascia signs at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island.  Though the sign looks like it could be older, Starlite reportedly opened in 1984; it ended its 39 year run with the retirement of its longtime owner, Jung Min Kim, in April 2023.  The sign itself has been preserved at the New York Sign Museum in Brooklyn. 

American Neon, Lefcourt Empire Bldg., 989 Sixth Av., Midtown, Manhattan (c. 1927)

Also not neon but undeniably worthy of mention on this list, the painted ghost sign of the American Neon company vanished this year along with the 21-story Lefcourt Empire building, from whose side it had presided over the north end of Herald Square since the late 1920s.  A relic of a long-vanished chapter in the early history of New York's neon business, American Neon emerged as a competitor to the Claude Neon-affiliated franchises that attempted to maintain a monopoly on the neon business around the world, until the latter company's critical patent finally expired in the early 1930s. In its brassy bid to break Claude's stranglehold on the business, American Neon built a giant neon "airplane beacon" atop developer A.E. Lefcourt's new tower at 37th St. and Sixth Av., which reportedly could be seen for hundreds of miles. Neither the beacon nor the company lasted more than a few years, but it left a subtle mark that endured in the palimpsest of New York's commercial necrology until this year. 

AND THE ONES TO WATCH NEXT YEAR ...

T-Bone Diner, 107-48 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, Queens (c. 1963)

Opened in the 1930s, Queens' T-Bone Diner quietly closed up shop back in 2022. Its great neon roof sign had been a neighborhood landmark since replacing earlier neon signage during a modernization sometime circa-1963.  Patch has reported on a move afoot to revive the venerable eatery, but as of December 2023 the place remains dark. 

Roebling Liquors, 311 Roebling St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn (1945)

Word on the neon street is that the new owners of this long-time Williamsburg liquor retailer are looking to unload their beautiful stainless steel vertical sign, a 1945 work of the Salzman Sign Co. of Brooklyn (see Starlite Deli blurb above). 

Theatre 80 St Marks, 80 St Marks Pl., Lower East Side, Manhattan (c. 1964)

After a long string of ominous news reports regarding the future of the East Village's beloved "Theatre 80," the small off-Broadway venue finally succumbed this past April, following a prolonged dispute with creditors. The theater's longtime owner, Lorcan Otway, whose family ran the place from the time it opened in 1964, has continued to pursue various means of refloating the business but the building was reportedly sold in in May and the marquee remains dark at press time. 

Friday, December 30, 2022

Lights Out 2022: Signs We Lost This Year

The New York Neon blog may be clinging to life, just barely, with new posts once a year.  The same cannot be said however of the signs and businesses featured below, which are gathered here for our annual roundup of neon landmarks dead and gone from the landscape.  (As usual, some of these may have disappeared before 2022 but their loss only came to my attention this year.) 

Mike's Diner, 2237 31st St, Astoria, Queens 

Originally opened in 1928, Mike's Diner in Astoria this year sadly joined the ranks of businesses Google lists as "permanently closed." The Astoria Post reports that the business shuttered in late summer amid a rent dispute between the landlord and the restaurant's operators. While its modest building had been updated several times, the sign appeared to be the product of an early 1960s makeover. The city's circa-1940 tax photo shows a previous sign hanging outside a real showstopper of a classic streamlined diner building whose spirit lived on here until the business ended a 94-year run this year.  Historic photo is via the NYC Municipal Archives.

Queen Marie Italian Restaurant, 84 Court St, Brooklyn

Somewhat overshadowed by the loss of a certain other Queen this year, downtown Brooklyn's Queen Marie restaurant quietly decamped from its longtime home on Court Street early in 2022.  Opened in 1958, the Queen Marie had been a neighborhood staple for generations. The restaurant has since been reincarnated under the same ownership as "Ristorante MV" in Bernardsville, NJ. Brooklyn's loss is Jersey's gain. 

Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W 47th St, Manhattan

The former Mansfield Theatre on 47th St. in the Theater District gained this lovely sign circa 1960, when it was renamed for veteran New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson.  The sign vanished this year when the theater was renamed again, this time for the late singer and actor Lena Horne, eminent lady of the stage and now the first African American woman to be honored with a theater bearing her name. I know embarassingly little about Atkinson, but whoever lettered the sign that bore his name had some of the best neon penmanship I'd seen anywhere.  Ms. Horne's name is now rendered in simple block letters that are nice enough but leave us wanting for the jaunty pizazz of their predecessors.  For the record, they're rendered in genuine neon. 

Ernst & Young, 5 Times Square, Manhattan

Not especially old, but a bona fide New York neon landmark in the traditional sense: the monumental Ernst & Young sign loomed over the south end of Times Square for about 20 years, from the time the giant building from which it hung was built in 2002.  Rising up nearly a 30-story stretch of the tower's east facade, the sign enjoyed an unobstructed vista down Seventh Avenue that allowed it to be seen from Greenwich Avenue, a mile and a half down the island.  

Blarney Stone, 410 8th Ave, Manhattan

The Blarney Stone bar by Penn Station and MSG had shed pretty much all of its bad-old-days trappings in a lobotomizing makeover sometime circa 2004, during which its hallmark deli case, tattered Naugahyde bar stools and ancient terrazzo floor all got cleared out in favor of an "Irish Pub" themed interior cobbled together from what looked like stock moldings from Home Depot. The bar's old sign, however, remained here to testify that this Blarney was in fact the real deal, an authentic, card-carrying survivor of the umpteen Blarney Stones that once existed all over Manhattan in decades past.  Alas, the old sign vanished this summer to make way for a schlocky LED approximation of its predecessor. The scene inside the joint however is otherwise a pretty compelling throwback to the Blarneys of old (caveat - not on game nights).  Of thirty-some known Blarney Stones that once existed in Manhattan, this is one of just two that remain.  

Flats Fix (née Live Bait), 14 E 23rd St, Manhattan

When a "for rent" sign went up over the storefront of the former Live Bait bar on 23rd Street at Madison Square during the pandemic, I thought surely it would be just a matter of time before some savvy restaurateur came along to revive this old space and light those great old signs up again for all of us to enjoy.  I soon found myself choking back the vomit rising in my throat when I rounded a corner early this year only to find the signs felled and the storefront gutted to make way for a new Popeyes fried chicken franchise.  The old Live Bait signage (the bar was known as "Flat Fixed" in its last days) made for one of the more vibrant vintage storefronts anywhere in New York, though its exact provenance eluded me. Its owners, the same group that ran everyone's favorite Coffee Shop down on Union Square, never responded to requests for an interview. The BAR RESTAURANT fascia sign appeared to have come from somewhere else; traces of older neon signage could be seen hidden behind it. Buildings Dept records indicated that the vertical BAR sign, which beamed out in three glorious directions, had been installed in 1940 for an establishment known as the Metro Tavern.  Hopefully someone salvaged those signs to shine again one eday.

Patriot Saloon, 110 Chambers St, Manhattan

Speaking of Blarney ... the Patriot Bar opened in 2003, inheriting its space (and its vertical BAR sign) from a certain Blarney Cove bar that had occupied this address for years prior (the storefront actually housed Pearl Paint before that).  The Patriot's BAR sign had already disappeared a few years back when a new residential building went up next door. The Tribeca Citizen reported this past summer that the bar itself has now followed its neon herald into the great beyond.    

Holland Bar, 532 9th Ave, Manhattan

The Holland Bar and its sign were both survivors, having been deposed from their previous home in the Hotel Holland on 42nd Street some time circa 1987.  The bar found a new home around the corner on 9th Ave and 39th Street, but when sign proved too big to fit over the tiny storefront, the owners found a spot for it inside above the back bar.  Festooned in Christmas lights, it presided over all sorts of proceedings at what became one of New York's more likable dive bars for another few decades until the old Holland quietly bowed out this year.  In the Neon Book I noted that the sign held the ashes of longtime regular Charlie O'Connor, who lay in repose in an urn nested between the letters "O" and "L."  Historic photo from an old postcard. 

79th Street Wine & Spirits, 230 W 79th St, Manhattan

For decades, this fantastic ensemble of liquor store signs stood on West 79th Street directly across from the flashing neon harp of the old Dublin House Bar, giving us a two-for-one neon special that made this otherwise ordinary Upper West Side block a place I always looked forward to seeing any time I happened to be up this way.  A crowdsourced funding campaign helped finance a loving restoration of the Dublin House sign a few years ago. Sadly that outpouring of affection across the street was lost on the proprietors of the liquor store, who junked their great fascia and vertical signs for plastic faced LED crap early in 2022.  

Forlini's, 93 Baxter St, Manhattan

The late, great Forlini's of Baxter Street was just about the last vestige of Little Italy below Canal Street.  A classic, unpretentious redsauce joint, its location near the downtown courthouses made it a go to for everyone from Manhattanites on jury duty to future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Founded in 1944, its storefront boasted at least two generations of neon signage, the last of which covered its neon tubes behind red plexi.  Its demise was sealed when the Forlini family recently sold the building and bowed out of the restaurant business.  

National Jewer's Exchange, 2 W47th Street, Manhattan

New York's "diamond district," a one block stretch of West 47th Street between 5th and 6th Av's, is still a haunt for some of the more interesting signage left in Manhattan, but sadly its best sign - that for the National Jewelers Exchange - has finally bit the dust.  Something about this one always made it one of my favorites.  Its pre-Helvetica block letters, half of them slightly askew, its battered sheet metal box, really gave it the look of something that had seen it all.  It had been blocked by scaffolding and dark for years, but was still hanging in there until about a year ago, when the great old building off which it hung (along with the one next door) got themselves dates with the wrecking ball amid yet another stupid redevelopment project that we really don't need.   

World Telegram, 125 Barclay St., Manhattan

Speaking of large, handsome Art Deco office buildings being destroyed for stupid redevelopment projects that we don't need . . . New York's old World Telegram building in Lower Manhattan is being skinned at press time to make way for yet another glassy, soul crushing piece of junk, because, you know, New York needs more glassy, soul crushing pieces of junk.  The World Telegram's massive roof sign had already been gone for many years, but the big old steel framework that once held it aloft was still there, an interesting relic from a time when giant signs like this beamed out across the harbor from all directions.  The building below it was a lesser-known Art Deco gem designed by Howell & Thomas in 1930.  Its vibrant green terra cotta scored it a feature in Andrew Garn and Eric Nash's new book "New York Art Deco," published just this year. 

Eneslow Shoes, 2563 Webster Av, Bronx

Eneslow's ghost sign off Fordham Road in the Bronx was already a husk, its lettering having been pulled off years ago.  It made a great then-and-now study contrasted against a period photo loaned to me by Justin Langsner of the LaSalle Sign Co., who made this and the great Papaya King sign in Manhattan (see below).  Eneslow's ghost sign has finally vanished, but the fantastic old-school shoe retailer the sign advertised is actually with us still, at a new location over on 3rd Ave in Midtown Manhattan - one of NYC's best kept secrets and oldest retailers of any kind.   

AND THE ONES TO WATCH IN 2023

Papaya King, 179 East 86th St, Manhattan

It's almost hard to imagine there was ever a time when a little one story building could occupy a prominent Manhattan street corner without being eyed as a "development opportunity" yet for decades that's just how it was the NW corner of 86th and 3rd, where the erstwhile hotdog dispensary known as the Papaya King has been an Upper East Side landmark for nearly 60 years (and at a different address for another 30 years before that). At length, the corner seems finally poised for a major redevelopment - here's hoping that incredible sign finds a good home somewhere. 

Columbus Hardware, 852 Ninth Av., Manhattan.

Columbus Hardware relinquished its longtime home on 8th Ave in Hell's Kitchen last year, leaving its old sign behind.  The mom-n-pop hardware store lives on at its new address but the sign remains abandoned and awaiting its fate at the old storefront. 

Subway Inn, 1140 2nd Ave., Manhattan.

The venerable Subway Inn endured a successful transplant over to 2nd Ave and E60th St when developers plowed under its original home by Bloomingdale’s back in 2015.  The bar quickly took root at its new location - a rare success story, until the its new digs found themselves in another developer’s crosshairs in 2022. The bar closed this past summer and moved its sign to a new location up the block, but both storefronts remain empty at press time, leaving the future of one of Manhattan’s longest running watering holes (established 1937) very much in doubt. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Lights Out 2021: Signs We Lost This Year

Well, it has come to this: my one and only blog post for an entire year is this annual doomsville round-up of vanished or vanishing signs.  In my defense, I did manage to crank out another book during that time!  Anyway - for all the obvious difficulties of the past year, 2021's list of neon casualties is mercifully short. (Please let me know if I've missed any.)  In a few cases, the signs are gone but the old businesses they advertised have survived.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that the list includes some real bitter pills, none harder to swallow than the loss of the Clover Deli on 34th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan.  As with previous round-ups, the list below includes a few that disappeared prior to 2021 but whose loss only came to my attention this year.  With that, let's dim the lights for our funerary feature. 










Angelo's of Mulberry St., 126 Mulberry St., Manhattan. c. 1955

Angelo's ancient Italian restaurant was one of the real stalwarts of Little Italy.  Opened in 1902, the restaurant never bobbed back to the surface when others started to re-open after pandemic closures.  While there are rumblings that new management might bring it back to life, its fantastic swing sign has already vanished.  The sign was a simple beauty, with stainless steel channel letters mounted to a stainless steel box - stainless-on-stainless being a classic hallmark of New York sign shops.  All that stainless steel was beautifully offset by the icy blue hue that glowed within its fantastic mid-century script lettering.  Hopefully the sign found a good home somewhere.  










Patriot Saloon, 110 Chambers St., Manhattan. (Vertical sign only)

The Patriot Saloon on Chambers Street was home to one of New York's dwindling population of classic vertical BAR signs mounted high up over its storefront.  With only a one story "taxpayer" building next door, the sign seemed free and clear of zoning ordinances that precluded such installations outside residential windows.  But when the little taxpayer building got itself torn down and replaced with luxury apartments recently, the Patriot's old BAR sign suddenly found itself in harm's way - it's a goner now, though the bar's fascia neon remains.










Clover Delicatessen, 621 Second Ave., Manhattan. Globe Neon, 1956.

The Clover Deli bit the dust last year, after a more than 70-year run in east midtown.  Opened after WWII, urban renewal displaced the deli from its original location after just a few years.  But the business landed on its feet at the prominent corner of 34th and 2nd, where it stayed for 65 years before finally closing amid the pandemic in 2020.  For a while there was talk of a new business moving in and keeping the signs in place, but that never came to pass: the deli's owners donated the signs to the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio, which came and picked them up in late August.  The signs are now in safe hands, but need some TLC (you can make a donation towards their restoration here). Still, Manhattan just isn't the same without the Clover.  










Goldberger's Pharmacy, 1200 First Ave., Manhattan. c. 1960.

Like the great Clover Deli, Goldberger's was particularly exciting as one of the few remaining neon-bedecked corner storefronts left in New York, with especially evocative period letterforms beaming out in two directions from its perch at 65th Street and First Ave. It was one of the very few neon storefronts to even get a shoutout in the AIA Guide to NYC ("The Old New York, still dispensing").  Sadly, @sign_of_the_time reported on Instagram this past August that the store had to pack up and move down the block.  The signs were partially salvaged for display inside.  And happily the business, around since 1898, survives.  But one of Manhattan's best neon landmarks is no more. 



















Rose Wine & Liquor, 449 Columbus Ave., Manhattan. 

This age-old Upper West Side liquor store is still around but their fantastic old sign has vanished and been replaced with an approximation of the original, for reasons that at the very least are far from obvious to the vested observer.  The original featured blue porcelain sign faces framed in stainless steel edging and accented by stainless channel letters tracing classic "pre-Helvetica" squared-off block letters, each rendered in four-count'em-FOUR strokes of red neon, all of it vested with the hard earned patina of probably 70 years reigning over this stretch of Columbus Ave.  The new sign is still neon - fine! - but the neon has gone from four strokes to two, the tubes are too deeply recessed in the channels, the stainless and porcelain has yielded to aluminum, the patina is gone-daddy-gone, and all you can say for the letterforms is at least they're not Arial. Some things I'll just never understand. If anyone needs a case study for the merits of an old sign purely in aesthetic terms, here it is on a silver platter.  











Columbus Hardware, 852 Ninth Ave., Manhattan.

Another case of an old business that had to give up its longtime storefront and lost its neon in the process.  Columbus Hardware has moved just a few doors down but abandoned its lovely old vertical sign in the process.  Unforgiving zoning ordinances and other cold hard realities apparently complicated the prospect of installing the old sign over the new storefront to the point of practical impossibility.  What will become of the old sign, a glowing glory of pink fluorescent neon over canary-yellow porcelain, remains unclear.  



























(Google Streetview; NYCMA / 1940s.nyc)

Mercer Street Parking Garage, 165 Mercer St., Manhattan. 

A lovely sign, if not so old, this vertical neon still had a classic flavor to it, and was likely the descendant of an older sign that probably hung in the same spot, though none appears in the c.1940 tax photo for this property.  One of New York's last big flashers, it blasted out its not-so-subtle mating call to Manhattan motorists with the words PARKING and GARAGE cast aglow in alternate sequence from a very old cast iron SoHo facade.  Interestingly, what the old tax photo does show is that the painted signage on that facade hadn't changed much in at least 80 years.  But in a land of red hot real estate such as SoHo, something so prosaic as a parking garage behind that beautiful historic facade was on borrowed time: sure enough, the garage got the boot for luxury residential circa 2017-18.  The facade is resplendent now.  It dripped in neon-lit bird doo before; it drips in something else now. 


















Schmidt's Candy, 94-15 Jamaica Ave., Woodhaven, Queens. 

Still another case of an old business still around but without its venerable neon: @sign_of_the_time reported the loss of Schmidt's sign this past February; the business owners said the city Dept of Buildings forced them to take the sign down due to non-compliance issues.  The sign was demonstrably if not certifiably old - it shows up in the city's circa-1940 tax photo - which is normally enough to get some clemency.  Somehow that didn't happen here.  Prewar storefront signs are exceedingly rare in New York today, and sadly, they're even rarer now.  Bits and pieces of the old sign have been hung on the wall inside - let's go pay them a visit in 2022.