The gritty appeal of a 14th Street liquors sign

The low-rise, rundown buildings on the south side of 14th Street at Eighth Avenue have slowly emptied out—the liquor store moved down the block a few years back, a restaurant closed and nothing reopened, and now a candy store and corner deli are gone as well.

What will become of this wonderful discount liquors sign—bumblebee yellow, two stories tall!—when the building it’s attached to inevitably falls to the developers?

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12 Responses to “The gritty appeal of a 14th Street liquors sign”

  1. Genni Says:

    The candy store sign was hand lettered until last year

  2. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    I must say, I am not fond of the neon yellow sign. However, I am really loving the buildings……no way of saving that neighborhood?
    I love those brick buildings! LOVE!!

  3. Kenny Says: for lost storefronts

    • Zoe Says:

      Thanks for the video Kenny. There are some great photography books on storefronts also. One or two that came out around 2000 (?) by the same photographer. They were on my wish list & then life altered that list.

      “Psychic Reader” (in video linked). Lol. There was a Roma woman ‘fortune teller’ in a raised storefront window on Houston Street just before Stanton that used to sit in the window & beckon me in. I never went in but I probably should have – if only for the experience.

      The interesting thing was she didn’t do it every time I passed; but only when I was in some kind of crisis or sorrow – which I *thought* I had fairly well hidden! When I asked/told my mum about that she said the traditional Roma fortune teller women are really sensitive about reading one’s facial expression. My mum was really familiar w/ Roma & Sinti as her apartment in Berlin as a child was across from a park where they camped in their ‘living wagons’. The women told fortunes & the men fixed metalware & knives etc. They went to France in the winters.

      The other thing I miss in the City are those storefront Catholic shrines to the Virgin/Mother Mary. For the uninitiated: It would just look like a statue of Maria in the empty storefront window. Inside was a shrine for local devout Catholics to pray. There was one on East 14th (?). It’s not there anymore; but I searched & found a website about its history since that neighbourhood became Italian & where the statue is now etc. (In Jersey if I recall properly).

      There was also one near me in the South Slope (Park Slope Brooklyn below 5th Ave) when I moved there in 1989 after the LES.

  4. Zoe Says:

    It’s interesting how quickly neon signs went from the latest in ultra *modern* 20th century machine age glamour to representing a tattered underworld.

    What influenced this? Film noir? Or the association w/ shops selling alcohol like these & all night eateries & cheap hotels & parking garages etc.?

    When I worked in Williamsburg for a jewellery designer in 1981 – in a street still full of smaller industrial lofts – there was a neon sign manufacturer. They always had pieces of brightly coloured glass tubing out on the curb to be carted away as refuse.

    I figured they must be struggling for business. But one still sees neon signage inside shop windows sometimes. I really *love* it when it’s done creatively.

  5. modernist Says:

    While life often imitates art. It was the movies that principally reflected their environment. I think it was a French film director (I don’t remember which) who remarked on arrival in New York in the 40s or 50s , how everyone looked liked they’d stepped out of a B movie. Chicken or egg? Presumably both.

    • Zoe Says:

      “everyone looked like they’d stepped out of a B movie”

      Lol! Or later more costly films like ‘Midnight Cowboy’ which had real members of The Factory (party scene). It all became a blur at some point : “Chicken or egg?”… You’re right about “both”.

  6. modernist Says:

    Great flick/ scene where ‘Ratso’ ‘doesn’t’ steal food and Joe Buck hooks up with Brenda Vaccaro.

    • Zoe Says:

      If anyone wonders why many of us are not always happy w/ the *new* New York – they should see this film Modernist. (I say this even though my old LES apartment was not dissimilar to Ratso’s squat… before I painted & we finally took the landlord/slumlord to court for neglect & won).

      I’m always a bit astonished when I see the year it was released. 1969. My parents took me! I was eight. It was rated X then. I think we saw it IN Times Square. Lol… apparently eight year old children were allowed in X-rated films – at least in our fair city.

      My parents took me to a lot of films – not children’s films – then. Dog Day Afternoon. Bonnie & Clyde. The Go Between (love/sex scene that really confused me then!). My friends’ parents took us to Disney films (which were only for small children then). I’m a bit amazed at my parents now looking back – but it gave me a really great film education.

      It’s a brilliant capsule of a late 1960s NY – Midnight Cowboy – that is sadly gone now except in memory & film.

      Searching Brenda Vaccaro now Modernist. What a mold breaker! *clapping* for her… Thanks for reminding me of her.

  7. David H Lippman Says:

    I grew up in that neighborhood, and remember that sign. Very gritty area.

    • Zoe Says:

      Lol. Remember when the park – Union Square – was c o m p l e t e l y & t o t a l l y e m p t y ? Aside from the pigeons. Property of the drug dealers.

      Walking through any of the empty downtown parks then (late 70s/early 80s) was taking one’s life in one’s hands. My friend lost his teeth & his leather jacket just for walking through once. Very sadly – as he was the last person w/ money for dental work & it took him another eight years to afford to have his teeth fixed.

      On a more surreal note; my former boyfriend once saw a wooden water tower fall off a building on that stretch of blocks.

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