Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hidden Shoe Repair Shop

You could explore Grand Central Terminal for years and not discover all of its many exit/entrances and passageways, the odd places to which they lead you. Recently, I exited from the train via a nondescript set of turnstiles that led me into a shopping arcade I can't remember ever encountering before.



Located under the Chanin Building, it's one of those little corridors lined with useful, independent businesses, the sort you used to see in the city all the time. One utterly entranced me.

The cobbler's shop's exterior is perfectly preserved, covered in advertising from more than half a century ago. SHOE SERVICE, it reads, and HATS CLEANED.



O'Sullivan's is not the name of the shop, but a brand of rubber heel. As is Neolite.

In one window, a pair of colorful neon cowboy boots (with spurs) advertise REPAIR and SHINE. An odd choice for a city shop, and therefore a rare sight.



Inside, heavy antique machines do the work.



They do shines while you sit in comfortable chairs, and repairs while you wait in those little modesty booths.



This is the second time I've seen these booths--the first time was at Jim's Shoe Repair, where they are arranged not side-by-side, but train-car style.



I don't know the name of the shop. It might be called Ideal Shoe Repair. I was told it dates back to the 1940s.

Protected deep beneath the gorgeous Art Deco lobby of the Chanin Building, it has survived relatively untouched. Like a rare and endangered orchid found hidden in the wild.

11 comments:

BrooksNYC said...

What a find! Beautiful! Can't wait to make a field trip.

Bluesluvver said...

Perfect...

Cladrite Radio said...

It doesn't have the vintage advertising, but Louis Shoe Repair has been operating on 33rd Street since 1921. It was there before the Empire State was built, relocated while the ESB was under construction, and returned as a ground-floor tenant once the ESB opened.

Here's a blog post (with pics) I wrote about it: http://www.cladriteradio.com/archives/5525

Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com said...

WOW! Talk about taking a random turnstile BACK IN TIME. Hats Cleaned, Mod Betty Swoons.

laura r. said...

for me thats luxury. to be able to sit in a nice chair & wait for your shoes. now thats a thing of the past. get it while you can.

vizcode said...

I'm crazy about those shoe modesty booths. Such different times!

Anonymous said...

Terrific find. Exudes stories. Can you imagine the conversations that have happened in that place?

gina in alabama said...

The detail and the energy in the wall decoration in the last picture just amaze me! Its so Deco! the high quality of design and execution are so not of today.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the hidden passage in Rock Center under 50 Rock where Jerry's Barber Shop is

Walter said...

There, once upon a time, was a store called Hoffritz, located in GCT. I bought a pair of scissors there that still cut as sharply as they did on the day I bought them. 35-36 years ago.

Da smuck said...

U tha man J, now that's a find!