At Corbitt’s Wines & Liquors, 118-04 Jamaica Avenue opposite the old Triangle Hotel where Myrtle Avenue ceases its unrelenting march eastward from downtown Brooklyn, it could be 2006, 1996, 1986, 1976, 1966, or 1956. Or even 1946. That’s how much things are seemingly unchanged here as the years and drinkers roll past. Year after year, the Christmas decorations remain in the window along with the years-old displays and foam footballs.
You know the place is, or was, Corbitts from a faded stenciled sign on the left side of the left window. The front door, in particular, may be older than the red and white plastic-lettered sign, with stencilling in silver and gold leaf. Does anyone do this work anymore?
Richmond Hill, the site of two Forgotten NY tours in 2014 and 2016, has been an endless supply of fascination for me because of its nearly abandoned Long Island Rail Road trestle, ancient business signage, preserved theater marquees, and endless supply of gorgeous urban architecture; it was laid out by the same team that designed nearby Forest Hills as an affluent suburban neighborhood. Societal chronicler and photographer Jacob Riis lived there, and the Presidential Seal is displayed in the Church of the Resurrection on 118th Street: Teddy Roosevelt attended Riis’ daughter’s wedding there in 1900, even though he was “just” NYS Governor at that time.