I don’t spend nearly enough time in the recesses of the Lower East Side, though I have done reviews of both Stanton and Rivington Streets, back in 2009. Over the years since I started FNY the LES has lost some of its infrastructural majesty, in the form of ancient painted ads and signs. There are a couple still left — one of them is the magnificent neon Louis Zuflacht sign at Stanton and Suffolk Streets; the “154” is the Stanton Street address. This sign has persisted despite Zuflacht going out of business several decades ago; tenant after tenant has moved in, and amazingly, kept the sign. In 2014 there was worry it had finally succumbed, as it was covered with a sign for an antiques store, but that was a prop for a TV show called Forever, about an unwilling immortal. (I’d be for immortality as long as someone picks up my meals, room and board and health care.)
I haven’t gone into who Louis Zuflacht was yet. Even the Indispensable Walter Grutchfield does not mention him. However, the blogger called Brooks of Sheffield did, in his terrific Lost City, which he stopped writing in 2014 ( your webmaster, me, has no life and so FNY will continue ad infinitum). Zufrecht was a long-lived haberdasher (1883-1986) who operated the store beginning about 1940; the sign was commissioned in 1942. Zufrecht’s sons, Jack and Joe, ran the business for a time. Unfortunately, neither Brooks nor I know the precise date the store shut down.
I was by in January 2016, which because of the shadows, is the worst possible time to be here to take a picture, as the shadow cuts right across it. Like me, the Zuflecht sign persists, even as the decades roll on and changes like CitiBike docks pop up beside it, paying it no mind. Renters will come and go — hopefully, one will spend some dough and rewire the sign. “Smart clothes” are no longer worn; everyone except me has cargo shorts and T shirts.