Time was, you couldn’t walk down a main street of any small to medium town in America, swing a dead cat and not hit a Rexall drugstore, provided there were any dead cats on hand. Despite living in NYC for many more years than anyone can imagine I know this because there always seems to be a blue and orange Rexall sign on period color postcards, or a Rexall drugstore in a black and white photograph of a main street someplace. These days, flinging a dead cat will likely produce a Starbucks or a bank branch, at least in NYC. Rexall was in business in the USA between 1902 and 1977, though it’s still extant in Canada. Now that New Brighton, Staten Island’s big Rexall awning sign on Victory Boulevard has been dismantled, there seems to be just one left in town…
Norwood Rexall Drugs, on Broadway just east of 31st Street in Astoria. Unless it is connected somehow with the Rexall Canadian franchise, the “Rexall” on the new awning sign is there only because of the leftover blue and orange Rexall signage that can still be seen on the top of the plate glass windows.
And oh what plate glass it is. I’m probably wrong about this, but that curved corner plate glass piece is likely a rarity now, isn’t it?
I did not get on the old-fashioned weighing machine. Like Lieutenant Kaffee, I just can’t handle the truth.
The Brown’s Army-Navy sign nearby is not all that old, but has likely been there for quite a few years, at least; the plastic letters in Helvetica bespeak a 1980s esthetic.
On the other hand, the Broadway Dance Studio shingle has likely been here from the 1970s or even earlier. On 38th and Broadway is an awning sign that overlaps two stores. The plastic letters are in Clarendon, a font with overall even strokes — no thicker or thinner serifs. It’s always been one of my favorite fonts.
A bustling corner restaurant on 36th Street and 35th Avenue, many of whose patrons were eating outdoors on a 65-degree March afternoon, takes advantage of traffic from the adjoining Museum of the Modern Image; it has retained a neon bar sign that likely goes back to the fab Forties. RIGHT: on 34th Street, the plastic letters identifying the name of this old cleaning and dyeing business have long since fallen off.
American Elevator, on nearby 31st Street, is/was located in a building that does not require one.
Photographed March 21, 2010; page completed March 24