Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lights Out 2013: Signs We Lost This Year

Not to be a big debbie-downer right in the middle of the holidays, but - behold, the signs we lost in 2013.  I was all set to write up a little story on the recent disappearance of the Apple Tag and Label signs in Long Island City, when I figured "what the hell" - let's do 'em all.  

Since I started keeping tabs on New York's old neon signs for the neon book, I've found that the signs disappear at a rate of about a dozen each year, on average.  That statistic holds for 2013.  Some great signs vanished this year.  From Harlem's Lenox Lounge to U-Haul's wanton destruction of the huge Eagle Clothes sign in Brooklyn ... here they are, for the record.  Read'em and weep.  

Lenox Lounge, 961 Lenox Ave., Manhattan
Installed c. 1948.
A heartbreaking loss, the Lenox Lounge sign was pulled down in the midst of a bitter dispute over the closing of what had become an iconic Harlem institution.  Word is the venue is set to re-open under new ownership, perhaps with a replica of the original sign.

Hinsch's Confectionery, 8518 5th Ave., Brooklyn.  
Made c. 1948
Excruciatingly lost over the summer with a heavy-handed renovation of this veteran Brooklyn soda fountain.

Cork & Bottle Liquors, 1158 1st Ave., Manhattan.  
Made c. 1940 (vertical); 1971 by Laster (horizontal)
Replaced by new LED signs that roughly approximate their predecessors.  

Eagle Clothes, 213 6th Ave., Brooklyn.  
Made 1951 by White Way Neon
Trashed this summer when building owner U-Haul announced plans to build atop the former Eagle plant in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

Charles Street Garage, 97 Charles Street, Manhattan.  
Made c. 1962
Vanished to make way for a generic, Helvetica-emblazened, plastic-faced replacement.  

Tad's Steaks, Times Square, 701 7th Ave., Manhattan.  
Made c. 1975
Tad's had been on this block since the late 1950s, making it one of the very last real hold-outs of the "old" Times Square.  The signage likely dated to the late '70s, when Tad's opened up in the former Loew's Mayfair Theatre building.  Sadly, the Times Square Tad's got the boot this year when the landlord began vacating the historic theater in preparation for its demolition, now in progress - also quite a bummer.

Tad's Steaks, 34th Street, 152 W34th St., Manhattan.  
Made by Atlantic Sign Corp., c. 1964
Tad's dished out broiled steaks from this East 34th Street storefront, across the street from Macy's, from 1964 until it closed earlier this year to make way for a Croc's store.

Bernard F. Dowd Funeral Home / 165-20 Hillside Ave., Jamaica, Queens.
Made by Grauer Sign Co., c. 1984
A pair of real classic signs that first went up at this Queens funeral home in the 1950s, and were re-lettered in the 1980s after an ownership change.  

R.H. Macy Co., 441 7th Ave., Manhattan.  
Made c. 1948
There was neon in them there stainless steel reverse channel letters.  They're all gone now, lost in the course of Macy's $400m renovation.  

JL Wine & Liquor (formerly Goldrich Wines), 60 E34th St., Manhattan.  
Made 1950
Lost to make way for a plastic-faced LED replacement sign.  

Apple Tag & Label
Sadly, the big roof signs over the old Apple Tag & Label warehouse have not survived the building's ongoing residential conversion.

St. Charles Garage, 403 East 60th Street, Manhattan.
Shot down this year, as reported by James and Karla Murray.


Gallagher's Steak House, 228 W52nd St., Manhattan.  
Made c.1936
Gallagher's closed earlier this year, after 85 years in business.

Olympia Florist, 3799 Broadway, Manhattan.
Made 1950.
This Hamilton Heights florist bit the dust after about 100 years in business.   

Back Fence, 155 Bleecker Street, Manhattan.
Made 1946.
RIP to the back fence bar, which held down this Greenwich Village corner from 1945 until this autumn.  

D'Aiuto Bakery, 405 8th Ave., Manhattan.  
Made 1960 by Grauer Sign Co.
D'Aiuto closed this fall, reportedly for "renovations," but has yet to re-open some months later.