5TH AVENUE SIGNS

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On a May visit to Bay Ridge (to the dentist no less) I walked Fifth Avenue for the first time in a while, and spotted quite a number of store signs that were the same ones that I remembered from so long ago (I left Bay Ridge in 1993). The businesses still existed, and their old signs were still there; and why not — if the businesses are still flourishing, the signs are doing their jobs, after all.

Bay Ridge hasn’t changed quite as much as its teammates in Brooklyn neighborhoods, Williamsburg and Fort Greene, to name two.

Odd choice for a font on an awning sign, especially for a grocery. The font is almost the same as the one used on many editions of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, pedicated on Toffler’s idea that humans are having difficulty keeping up with the sheer pace of technological change. This font is usually employed in a science or sci-fi context.

The title resonated with pop musicians in the 1970s: both Curtis Mayfield and “mime-rockers” Hello People released chart hits with the same words.

Leske’s Bakery is a remaining Danish redoubt in a neighborhood whose Scandinavian influence has waned the past few decades. The Royal Restaurant is also a relic, since there were many more of these diner-style restaurants in Bay Ridge in the past.

Joe’s Appliances had something of a history. In the Super Seventies, it began as JGE (Jamaica Gas & Electric) Appliances, a 40-branch outfit owned by the rather rotund Jerry Rosenberg, who would offer “That’s the story!” to the offscreen question, “What’s the story, Jerry?” JGE offered discounts to union members only, which I found somewhat discriminatory. It only lasted a year or so in 1973-74 but not before Rosenberg launched a JGE Jewelry store, whose TV commercials featured a cheezy production number starring Rosenberg warbling “J-G-E jewl-er-ry” while dancing girls pranced. Ah the 1970s. JGE folded and this branch became Joe’s.

The Catholic Shop, featuring rosaries, prayer cards, and silimar items, was located on 5th for many years (it’s now on 79th just off 5th). You have to love the low-tech stenciled, spray paint sign.

Your webmaster relied on Reliance Cleaners during my stay at 654-73rd Street between November 1982 and October 1990. Reliance has relied on this tiled sign probably since it opened during the Tertiary Era, when uintatheres shoveled the earth with their oddly formed tusks.

I had a date with a dark-haired woman named Josephine at Canteena Circles Mexican in 1985; in contrast to usual Circles palatability, Canteena Circles was rather taste-free. Josephine (who had a palindromic phone number) went on a Club Med trip, met a tall blond fellow, and moved to New Hampshire. Lento’s, a longtime Third Avenue pizza mainstay, now shares quarters with the ersatz Mexican fare here.

Your webmaster got his grade school glasses at Ridgeboro, which was using this sign in the early 1970s.

Hitchin’ posts. Since 1941, gals clamored into Kleinfelds, the longtime wedding gown boutique, at 5th Avenue and 82nd Street. Similar to Fortunoffs, Kleinfelds felt it outgrew its Brooklyn locale and decamped to Manhattan several years ago; the space is now occupied by a Commerce Bank. For the guys, it was Tuxedo Gallery across the street.

Alpine Real Estate, 5th Avenue and 84th Street. I have long loved the hand cut wooden sign. For the longest time, the lettering here always reminded of the Associated Artists Productions logo that came up before some of the Bugs Bunny cartoons I watched on TV as a kid. Here, see what you think…upon examination, the “a” is different but the “p” is the same…

Lastly and not leastly, Hinsch’s has been selling homemade ice cream sodas and lunch fare from these quarters on 5th just off 86th since the Ordovician era (1948), when jellyfish ruled the earth.

Unlit, the sign’s nice, but lit, it’s even better.

Hinsch’s was saved in 2011 after the lease expired when the owner of Skinflint’s on 5th Avenue agreed to lease it.

7/8/08

 





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One Response to 5TH AVENUE SIGNS

  1. Melissa says:

    Love the old signs. Brings me back to the Bay Ridge of the 80s and 90s :)

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