Forgive me if I’m a little late to the party on this particular item — other sources have discussed it — but an ongoing freelance job at 1740 Broadway (the “MONY MONY Building”) has had me exploring the Columbus Circle area since May, and I have been roving all over, as far north as 72nd Street, as far south as Times Square, as far west as 11th and as far east as 5th. If things are going on a bit too long, I will jump on a subway which gets me back to work quickly.
At 860 9th Avenue, on the east side of the street, there’s a liquor store, Ninth Avenue Wine and Liquor. And hanging over the sidewalk is a venerable neon sign, with rusted metal and peeling paint. But the neon sign works — it blinks the word “wines” on and off.
When the letters are turned on, it’s hard to make out the lettering on the sign itself — the shadows and imprints are still there.
When the letters are in the off cycle, the lettering is visible, but still hard to make out. Undoubtedly the letters spell out the original name of the liquor store. But what is it?
It’s time to turn to the handy dandy NYC Municipal Archives 9th Avenue entry, where I hoped to find the answer. To my surprise I found it quite readily: here’s their photo of 860 9th Avenue. The photos are from 1940, when the 9th Avenue still shadowed the route. This el was near extinction however, as it would be torn down within a couple of years.
The sign is still there and the letters clearly spell “H. GARROU.” A google search led me to New York Neon, which has previously researched this sign and discovered that it went up in 1934 for the liquor store owner, Henri Garrou. However, I don’t have any photos from intervening years, and have no idea how long Garrou owned the store. His old neon sign is still around in 2019, though.