TAKE A LIQ-IN’ AND KEEP ON TICKIN’. New York’s ancient neon liquor store signs.

by Kevin Walsh

There’s no real story here. But for years, I’ve noticed that many liquor stores in the five boroughs have the same signage they must have had decades ago…whether they’re ceramic, painted signs or my favorite, NEON. It must just be a matter of the signs doing the same job they’ve done for many years doing just as good job now, and so the owners have no great need to replace them.

Still, in an era with cheap vinyl awnings dominating most New York City storefronts, the meticulous, well-crafted liquor store signs stand out like a sore thumb. So…here are just a few…some of these have disappeared since I shot them!

LEFT: Flatbush Ave. near Ave H

ABOVE: Franklin Ave. near Fulton Street


LEFT: the view from The Sheepshead Bay platform on the D train, Brooklyn
closeup of the sign

ABOVE: Broadway near Steinway, Astoria
RIGHT: South Ozone Park, Queens

LEFT: 125th Street near Broadway, Harlem. (RIP) RIGHT: 82nd Street near Northern Blvd., Jackson Heights.

Here’s a liquor store foyer that doubles as a subway entrance. Only in New York:

I lived in Bay Ridge 35 years, and this subway entrance/liquor store has been there as long as I remember. The facade is exactly the same one I remember from the 1960s. The Metrocard sign adds a modern touch.

RIGHT: building sign, same store

Greenwich Village still has a number of ancient neons like this pair on Hudson Street near Christiopher Street and Waverly Place near Gay Street.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, when these signs appeared, function was first and foremost. The country knew where it stood, and so did you…in front of a liquor store.

This battered but unbowed sign marks some Federal Style rowhouses that go back to 1827.

The sign has been removed as of 11/2001.

Left, West Broadway and White Street; right, West 14th near 8th.

Smith Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Left: On West 72nd near Broadway, the red neon is offset nicely by the green lightbulb to its right. Right: offers for liquors and jobs side by side on Avenue J in Flatbush. Ordinarily they don’t go together.

A little Modernist touch, perhaps, with 3D chrome on Chambers near Church in Tribeca.

Classon Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

DeKalb Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn

24th Street near 6th Avenue, Manhattan

Richmond Terrace and Port Richmond Avenue, Port Richmond, Staten Island

Now, THIS one is in the Liquor Store Sign Hall of Fame. It’s made entirely of wood! 11th Avenue in Dyker Heights.

Woodward Avenue, Ridgewood

Jackson Heights, Queens checks in. Dig the clock in the center.

Brook Avenue, Mott Haven, Bronx

East Williamsburg

East 161st Street near Yankee Stadium

Forest Hills

E me at erpietri@earthlink.net!