by Kevin Walsh

I was slowly and furtively making my way on a looping route from Bartel-Pritchard Square (really a traffic roundabout) at the western end of Prospect Park south and southwest to Borough Park, when the shoes started to pinch too much at last (I don’t like the way conventional sneakers look, so I always buy black sneakers that look like shoes, and they come in varying quality; I go through about 3 pairs per year). Toward the end of my walk in Borough Park I came across two Forgotten NY icons of the past (or rather, where they used to be) that time and the relentless nature of New York City to reinvent itself have erased.

I first saw this frozen-in-time tableau, with the ancient beauty shop on the corner of 10th Avenue and 40th Street in Borough Park, in October 2007. Original signage and beauty items in the picture windows were still in place. In 2007, the place was for rent, and soon after, it was taken over by the 10th Avenue Deli and Grocery, which erected an awning sign that obscures, but likely didn’t eliminate, the old beauty shop signage. The glass windows, though, may have been altered or eradicated by the roll down aluminum gate. The deli has vacated the space, which is one again for rent.

The 9th Avenue BMT subway stop on 38th Street has always been a backwater of the subway system, even though it’s adjacent to one of the bigger subway and bus repair yards in the city. It has an unused lower level that once brought Culver Line trains to Coney Island, and was later used as a shuttle that connected the West End Line and the Culver; the shuttle ended service in 1975, and the station has been frozen in time since, though the lower level stood in for a NYC subway stop in Crocodile Dundee. The fact that it was a backwater in the system led to the retention of several archaisms such as a group of platform lamps employing incandescent bulbs (above) once a common sight on BMT and IRT el lines. Many have been retrofitted with bright sodium vapor bulbs, but the ones here at 9th Avenue remained resolutely incandescent until 2010.

In 2010, 9th Avenue began undergoing a much-overdue restoration, in which the brick stationhouse and its terra cotta elements as well as the platform areas are being improved. The renovations, though, have apparently cost the station the old stanchions, which weren’t there when I waited on it (above). I’d imagine the MTA plans more modern, conventional posts for the platform.


In February 2012 I was slumped in my seat on the West End line heading south to Coney Island when I woke up at the 9th Avenue station, and discovered the MTA had installed retro versions of the old stanchins, as it has done in selected areas around town. Just as the DOT has standard lamppost designs for NYC streets, so does the MTA for outdoor platforms.

Not the ‘real thing,’ but they’ll acquire the patina of age as the years go by.

Page completed August 2, 2010, revised 3/5/12

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