While meandering down 1st Avenue, between East Houston and East 14th Streets recently, I was struck by the large number of small hole-in-the wall businesses and the handmade or old-fashioned signs that accompany them. Time for a quickie Signs page to show them to you.
DeRobertis Pastry Shop/Pasticceria between East 10th and 11th boasts a vintage neon sign, and has been in business since 1904. Scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s last feature, Eyes Wide Shut, were filmed here. It has been a mafia stronghold in the past, but we don’t need to expand on that here.
Another ex-mafia stronghold on the same block, Lanza’s, is in a building that sits a couple of feet in back of its neighboring building, and this presented an opportunity for signpainters hired by PN Practical Front Corsets to do a vertical ad in the space. From the florid lettering, it’s likely from 1910 or earlier. The lower part of the sign says, “You Want A Good Corset? Get a PN Corset.” I don’t know much about the history of PN Corsets, but their ads were frequent in the ladies’ magazines through at least the early 1950s.
As for the figure-enhancing contraptions, they have been out of style for awhile, but model/pinup girl Dita Von Teese has been trying to bring them back.
The original Cosmo’s Launderama was so popular with its 1950s plastic-lettered sign apparently proved so popular, another branch opened across 1st Avenue. It’s a good bet that it was renamed Cosmo’s after a nearby location was proven to be the Nexus of the Universe.
A small deli’s hand-drawn sign advertises homemade pierogis. Most cultures hve their dumpling traditions — Asians have their wontons, Italians ravioli, and Poles pierogis — all pretty much the same thing, though they have different stuffings and are served in different settings.
Most major record stores have folded their tents in the age of downloading — my former staples Virgin and Tower have disappeared. The banner is still carried by small indie and mom and pops like this one.
How many Forgotten Fans still regularly buy CDs or even LP’s?
Buildings of a certain age — over a century of a certain age — sometimes list the date of construction on their pediments, as well as the initials or even the full names of the builder or original owner, such as this one, LS or IS 1871, on the NE corner of 1st Avenue and St. Mark’s Place.