Archive for the ‘Old print ads’ Category

A ghost restaurant sign reappears on 14th Street

June 6, 2013

Old signs revealing an earlier layer of New York keep popping up these days, and the latest is on 14th Street just east of Eighth Avenue.


When the liquor store that occupied number 254 for at least a few decades closed its doors recently, they took their shop sign with them—uncovering the signage for a long-shuttered Greek restaurant.

Pappasfront14thstPappas got its start perhaps as early as the 1910s, as this thread from a genealogy site seems to indicate:

“In 1914, Christos Papagianakos’ Ellis Island manifest says he was going to his Aunt Athanasia (and Uncle Jimmy’s) at 254 W. 14th Street, New York City.”

Pappas14thstPappas operated at least until 1973 (the chef was shot one night—this was 1970s New York).

And it was enough of a dining destination that management printed postcards. Old phone exchange: WAtkins!

The Russian dictator waving to Houston Street

May 30, 2013

RedsquarecityrealtyThis hand-sketched ad for Red Square, the artsy, “luxury rental” apartment building on Houston Street between Avenues A and B, comes from a 1990 issue of Interview.

Anyone who has seen the building, which towers 13 stories over a low-rise stretch of Houston, will recognize the big block “Askew” clock on top, with its out-of-sequence numbers.

The other unusual feature on the building’s roof—the statue of Russian dictator Vladimir Lenin, his hand raised in victory—wasn’t added until 1994.

Redsquaread2So why is a statue of the leader of the Russian Revolution on a Manhattan apartment building?

It’s a nod to the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union back in 1989, the year the building—appropriately named Red Square—was built, reports this New York Times article.

“The 18-foot Lenin statue was originally a state-commissioned work by Yuri Gerasimov, but the Soviet Union’s implosion prevented the statue from going on public display. It was found by an associate of [a building co-owner] in the backyard of a dacha outside Moscow.”


And it’s no accident that the statue of Lenin is positioned so it’s facing the Financial District.

“Mr. Shaoul noted that Lenin faces Wall Street, capitalism’s emblem, and the Lower East Side, ‘the home of the socialist movement,”’ added the Times.

The chop suey tea parlor once in Times Square

March 29, 2013

Opened in 1914, the Republic Restaurant had the garish interior of a real old-school New York Chinese restaurant, based on these images on this vintage postcard.


The ad below—it comes from a 1915 guide for sailors in the U.S. Navy—sheds a little light on the menu. Chop suey and tea? Sounds like the kind of faux-authentic Cantonese cuisine New Yorkers at the time were accustomed to.

RepublicrestaurantadWhat happened to the Republic? After 50 years in the heart of Times Square, it was damaged in a fire in 1970 . . . but apparently held on at least a little longer.

A Cue magazine ad from 1973 suggests the shrimp toast and homemade egg rolls, plus the “roast pork won ton soup.”

A punk rock shrine in the 1980s East Village

March 25, 2013

“This is where the hard-core kids come to outfit themselves,” states a 1987 New York write-up about Trash & Vaudeville, the punk rock clothing mecca launched in 1975 that’s responsible for the Ramones’ leather jackets and introducing Doc Martens to the U.S.


Their early 1980s ads are great. This one comes from the September 1984 issue of the East Village Eye, and based on the guys’ suits, it looks like the store is trying to cater to a less hardcore crowd.


The best-sellers today? Kid-size leather jackets and a top hat a la Slash.

A WPA poster advertising a Queens roller rink

February 16, 2013

This WPA poster, part of a collection of posters digitized by the Library of Congress, must have been created in the early 1940s.


That’s because the New York City Building didn’t exist before the 1939 World’s Fair.

“After the World’s Fair, the building became a recreation center for the newly created Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The north side of the building, now the Queens Museum, housed a roller rink and the south side offered an ice rink,” the Queens Museum of Art website explains.

The pioneering birth control clinics of New York

February 16, 2013

BrownsvilleclinicThe first clinic got its start in October 1916. It opened in a storefront on Amboy Street in working-class Brownsville, Brooklyn (left).

Fliers attracted 100 women on opening day.

“For ten cents each woman received [a] pamphlet What Every Girl Should Know, a short lecture on the female reproductive system, and instructions on the use of various contraceptives,” states this NYU website.

amboystflyerpopThis was radical stuff a century ago. No wonder it only took days for the woman who started the clinic, social reformer and birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger, to be arrested.

Sanger was charged with violating the Comstock Act. Established in 1873, it made discussing and administering birth control a crime.

Sanger spent a month in jail in Queens. But there was one upside: though an appeals court upheld her conviction, the judge determined that nothing in the Comstock Act prohibited doctors, rather than activists, from giving out contraception.

With this in mind, Sanger founded her second clinic, what she called the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau, in 1923.

Staffed by MDs, the clinic disseminated information about contraception and offered birth control devices—serving more than 1,200 women in its first year, according to The Encyclopedia of New York State.

The clinic moved into this lovely circa-1846 row house at 17 West 16th Street in Chelsea in 1930.

“By the 1930s it served over 10,000 women per year and was the largest birth control clinic in the country,” the authors state.


For decades it was the only clinic giving out birth control to unmarried women, and interestingly, it treated men too. In 1969, it opened the first outpatient vasectomy center in the country.

After 50 years and a huge change in acceptance of birth control, the clinic closed in 1973. The 16th Street house is now a private home, albiet with a plaque designating it as a national historic landmark.

An anonymous valentine sent to East 121st Street

February 13, 2013

I wonder who mailed this sweet yet message-less card to Miss Elsie Mangels, who apparently resided at 447 East 121st Street in February 1910?


Her residence looks like it no longer exists; a housing development and some empty lots occupy that address today.


The card comes from the New York Public Library’s digital collection—a treasure of old ephemera, including vintage Valentine cards.

What the Times Magazine ran one Sunday in 1964

February 9, 2013

The New York Times has published a Sunday magazine since 1896; it was an attempt by new owner Adolph Ochs to set the Times apart from the papers that ran Sunday comic supplements and attract more intelligent readers.


I don’t know what the features were like back in the Gilded Age. But as this table of contents from the October 4, 1964 edition reveals, the articles and sections weren’t all that different from the stories the editors run today: rich kid/helicopter parent problems, national politics, art around the world, a little science and sports thrown into the mix, and of course, a crossword puzzle!

What a downtown or Brooklyn rental cost in 1983

January 31, 2013

A 1200 square foot Soho studio for $1350 a month?

An impossible find in 2013—but available 30 years ago (perhaps even without a fee!), according to this ad from the May 1983 issue of arts and entertainment monthly the East Village Eye.


It’s not the only rental that sounds absurdly inexpensive to New Yorkers conditioned to pay an average of up to $3,973 a month for a Manhattan apartment these days.


If you were willing to give “historic” South Williamsburg a try, you could score a two bedroom “modern” rental for $330 a month. Broadway and Marcy Avenue was probably a pretty rough place though.


An East Village subhed in the three digits per month? That was the going rate for this three-room place on Second Avenue and 10th Street, according to this East Village Eye ad from September 1984.

Celebrating winter with old Brooklyn businesses

January 23, 2013

The Brooklyn Public Library has a wonderful digitized collection of late 19th century business cards from hundreds of shops and companies located in the teeming city of Brooklyn.


They’re whimsical and imaginative—and some honor the cold weather while advertising their goods, like J.V. Dubernell, tailor.

His shop was at 331 and 333 Fulton Avenue, and his suits sound kind of expensive for the era.


That’s some sled illustrated in this card, for this clothing store, which comes off like the L.L. Bean of the time. Check out these prices for trendy wool cloaks!


This sweet scene advertises the business of a paint dealer. Sumpter Street is in today’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, quite a bit away from the other businesses, which are located closer to downtown Brooklyn in what was the fashionable shopping area of the time.

Perhaps a paint store was not welcome on refined Fulton Street?