photo: Bob Mulero
What do I remember about my 6-month stint in 1981 at Lexigraphics, a textbook company at 150 5th Avenue, my first full time job out of school? Well, it was preternaturally quiet over there. The boss was a bit of a taskmaster, but the owner, Irv Roberts, was a kindly sort — one hot summer afternoon he walked in with chocolate ice cream bars for everyone.
As I have anywhere I have worked, I wandered around the neighborhood aimlessly on my lunch hours, and was I amazed when I found this listing Bishop Crook on West 18th between 5th and 6th. It’s a modified Type 24A, but with the Type 24 A-W simplified wrought iron scrollwork. Affixed to it is a yellow public shelter sign that was once quite common, but has disappeared like the dodo bird (I’ve only found two very rusted and bent samples in Queens). The post was listing to the side about 30 degrees. Relatively recently it had been assigned a Westinghouse AK-10 “cuplight” that the NYC Traffic Department didn’t even to paint brown to match the rest of the post. It was torn down in 1982.
In those days the 5th Avenue was much more ‘working class’ and 6th Avenue, far removed from its salad days in the Ladies Mile (which has returned to some degree since) was home to paper and twine merchants, as well as shoes and socks wholesalers. On this block of West 18th, we see some of lower 5th’s booksellers — the recently shuttered Barnes and Noble at 5th and 18th used to be the company flagship. A cafeteria has an illuminated awning Coca-Cola sign and a parking garage was midblock.
Present highlights on this stretch of West 18th are City Bakery (which also has a lunch menu; I ate there during my stint at the Tiffany & Co. offices at 23rd Street), Academy Books and Music, couturier Rent the Runway, Books of Wonder, teh side entrance of the Siegel-Cooper Building, and an Old Navy at 6th Avenue.