Posts Tagged ‘Neon signs New York City’

A vintage neon garage sign lights East 76th Street

May 11, 2020

Fellow fans of New York City in gorgeous neon: feast your eyes on this vertical vintage beauty on quiet East 76th Street between First and Second Avenues.

The glowing sign tells us that the blond-brick garage is open to “transients.” That must mean short-term parkers, but it’s a word you don’t see on city garages anymore.

I don’t know how old the sign is. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s almost as old as the garage, which dates to 1930.

This might be part of the garage, in a 1940 tax photo. It’s on 76th Street but the building number is slightly off…possibly a typo? The smaller sign is to tiny to read.

[Third photo: Department of Records and Information Services]

East 70th Street’s pinkish neon coffee shop sign

October 14, 2019

In this photo, some of the letters look red, others are definitely pink.

No matter what colors the letters are, this gorgeous glowing sign for Neil’s Coffee Shop on 70th Street and Lexington Avenue is proof that New York bars and restaurants still feature the city’s iconic iridescent neon store signage.

Neil’s is an under-the-radar kind of place, opened in 1940. And happily, the inside decor and menu are as old-school New York diner as it gets.

The gritty appeal of a 14th Street liquors sign

October 16, 2017

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?

The appeal of a West Side parking garage sign

August 3, 2015

I couldn’t find any information on when this sign went up outside the parking garage on 43rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.


But the colors and the stylistic “garage,” not to mention its wear and tear, give it a vintage old New York feel.

It’s a strangely uplifting sight in an area once bookended by the super low-rent Hotel Carter and divey Smith’s Bar and is now home to sushi restaurants, a Westin Hotel, and the sleek offices of Yahoo.

Gorgeous neon signs illuminating the West Village

June 27, 2014

On this warm June evening, some old-school neon eye candy is called for. Neon is at its most enchanting at twilight, isn’t it?

Each of these signs have lit up the sky on the other side of Seventh Avenue South for decades—even if the establishments they advertise are a trendy parody of the bar and restaurants they they once were.


The Beatrice Inn opened in 1924 on West 12th Street. But it’s trended up these days and is no longer the comfortable if unspectacular neighborhood Italian place it had been. “Old Village ambience” wrote Cue magazine in 1975.


Almost a century old, the Fedora, on West Fourth Street, was also recently revamped from a longtime local gay bar to a cocktails and cutting-edge menu kind of place.


Arthur’s has been a venue for live music since 1937. The vertical Arthur’s sign is wonderful but doesn’t light up anymore, unfortunately.


Infamously known as the no-slices place, John’s has been serving meals (originally on Sullivan Street) since 1929—the year of the stock market crash.

This place is one of the few reminders that Bleecker Street was once a thriving Little Italy neighborhood, not an imitation of one.


Gorgeous neon signs illuminating the city

March 3, 2014

What’s more beautiful than block after block of glowing reds and blues and pinks and yellows, emanating light and heat?


These food-oriented neon signs also make you hungry. The Old Homestead sign looks pretty old, though not as old as this steak house (two words!) itself, from 1868.


The Donut Pub on 14th Street, a 50-year-old remnant of New York before cronuts and Starbucks, recently survived a competitive attack by an upstart Dunkin’ Donuts down the block, which quietly closed shop a few years ago.


DeRobertis Caffe and Pasticceria has been baking sweets for 110 years on First Avenue near 14th Street, when this was an Sicilian immigrant micro-neighborhood featuring Russo Brothers, Veniero, and probably hundreds of small shops lost to history.


Queen is an oddly named Italian restaurant (since 1958!) on Court Street in Brooklyn. You have to dig that crown.


And of course, Katz’s Deli, a treasure of New York neon and store signage—and sandwiches and Jewish soul food too.

More sublime neon beauty can be found here.

Old neon bar signs that lit up the New York sky

January 21, 2013

As more of the city’s legendary bars and taverns fall by the wayside (good-bye after 70 years, Lenox Lounge), their wonderfully evocative neon signs do too.

These examples are still giving the city its enchanting glow—or at least marking the space where an old-school dive or haunt once stood.


All that’s left of Joe’s Tavern Bar on 25th Street and 10th Avenue is its battered neon sign. It’s been shuttered for at least a few years; amazing that a developer hasn’t snapped up the space, considering how close it is to next-big-thing West Chelsea.


At least the Old Town Bar, on East 18th Street, is still in business, and the inside is as old-school as the sign out front. It got its start in 1892 and weathered Prohibition as a speakeasy with the help of political bosses at nearby Tammany Hall on 17th Street and Union Square.

Here’s a photo, with the same sign, that looks like it was taken in the 1920s or 1930s.


Arthur’s Tavern is still going strong after 76 years as a bar and jazz club on Grove Street in the West Village. The sign is in shambles and I’m not sure if it actually works.

Either way, it’s an enchanting piece of an older New York and I hope it doesn’t change.

The neon signs that light up the New York sky

October 11, 2012

Restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, corner stores—glowing neon colors are still all over the city, giving off that enchanting glow that makes New York nights so warm and magical.

Cinema Village has been showing indie and foreign films on 12th Street and University Place since 1963 and was “built in the shell of a turn of the century fire station,” its website says.

Patsy’s opened in 1944 and has been billed as Frank Sinatra’s favorite restaurant. Or was that one of the other Patsy’s around Manhattan?

This is my favorite neon sign and object: the Desco Vacuum Sales and Service store at 131 West 14th Street. A technicolor beauty.

New York’s coolest vintage liquor store signs

June 25, 2012

You probably won’t find organic wines or imported microbrews in these old-school city liquor stores. Their shabby vintage signs tell us that they’re traditional neighborhood shops where you can pick up decent booze at decent prices.

Casa Oliveira, on Seventh Avenue South near Sheridan Square, opened in 1936. Does the sign still light up? I’ve never seen it at night.

It’s always 1977 at Discount Liquors, on 14th Street and Eighth Avenue, where old New York–type bums hang around outside all night, drunk off their asses.

The Hotel St. George in Brooklyn Heights was once the borough’s largest and most luxurious hotel. Today, part of the complex serves as a dormitory for New York–area college students.

Established in 1933—in other words, as soon as Prohibition was over, some enterprising shopkeeper opened this no-frills liquor store on the Lower East Side, which is still going strong 79 years later.

The most enchanting sign in Coney Island

September 4, 2011

For its neon beauty and the cheap thrills it promises—sun, surf, and juicy hot dogs—does any sign beat iconic Nathan’s Famous at Surf and Stillwell Avenues?

Repeat the words enough, and they start to sound like a four-line haiku. “Take Home Food”: Is it a noun? A command? This is what Coney Island should look like.

I don’t know how old the sign is, but Nathan’s has been serving hot dogs, fried clams, and even frog legs (has anyone been brave enough to try them?) since 1916.