LOWER EAST SIGNS

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THE Lower East Side of cheap clothing bins, wholesale bargains and sweatshops is vanishing, as Chinatown expands east into its southern section (between, say, Delancey and Canal) and hipsters and yuppies infiltrate its northern flank, between Delancey and Houston.

The LES, though, is still very much a bargain clothing enclave, though, and for some reason, a couple of dozen absolutely ancient handpainted signs can be found down there. Before all of the LES can be converted to velvet rope clubs and million dollar condos by whatever apprentice Trump hires, let’s take a look at a few of them.

How many spelling errors are on the signs on this page? Answer at the bottom.

Grand and Ludlow. Grand seems to be the NYC socks and panty hose capital. This sign looks like it’s been there since at least 1950.

Beckenstein’s, 130 Orchard near Delancey, has been in business 85 years (in 2004)

Canal and Eldridge. These war horses are increasingly anachronistic in an increasingly Chinese-speaking area.

Laratex, on Eldridge, is just about the most decrepit storefront I’ve ever seen, with its rusted, ancient sign. Amazingly, it’s still open and bustling.

Allen Street

Back on Eldridge

Ratner’s, on Delancey, had been NYC’s oldest kosher restaurant before its 2002 closing after 97 years in business.

Gertel’s kosher bakery, on Hester near Essex, with both a handpainted and neon sign, closed in 2007.

Delancey (left), Orchard (above)

The LES still has a number of storefront lunch counters with the 1950s-style plastic letter signs, like this one on Broome Street.

The LES still has a number of storefront lunch counters with the 1950s-style plastic letter signs, like this one on Broome Street.

Orchard Street, sign perhaps brought from Paris

Rivington. What’s under the underwear?

Ludlow, north of Canal

Delancey and Eldridge

Stanton near Essex

Orchard and Rivington. All this and a wall-bracket lamp too!

Ah, the Swingin’ Sixties. Hair got longer, skirts got shorter and bras got burned. Hey, waitaminnit…

Left, Essex near Stanton; above, Ludlow south of Houston

Louis Zuflacht, on Stanton. This sign was installed in the era of cigarette holders, smoking jackets and big bands.

Lower East Side history

There are nine spelling errors, most of them omitted or misplaced apostrophes.

 





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