Friday, June 27, 2008

Bickford's & Gross

One member of a favorite pair of buildings, the old Bickford's on 8th Ave and 34th, is draped in Vornado. That means it's probably time to say goodbye.

photo: nick widzowski

According to 14to42, this Bickford's location opened in 1929. A New York Times article, found here, tells us that the sign was revealed in 2000 when a facade for the Adult Entertainment Center on the site came down:

"Bickford's, trim and tidy in white terra cotta, its distinctive script logo in a stepped entablature over a field of Art Deco chevrons...

'It's a gift back to the street of a beautiful facade,' said William K. Dobbs, a lawyer and amateur preservationist who has immersed himself in Bickfordiana ever since discovering the old facade. He determined that the branch at 488 Eighth Avenue, whose telephone number was once CHIckering-3339, went out of business in the mid-60's. It was replaced by a restaurant called Snacktime, which was supplanted by the adult book store."

photo of the same building, ground floor

Now the adult book store is gone. ForgottenNY took a peek not long ago.

Remarkably, the neighboring S & G Gross pawnbrokers, established in 1901, still lives. 14to42 also has more info on them. S & G were Solomon and Gustav of Stanton Street. Their heir, Robert Gross, was working in the place 20 years ago, when he was interviewed by the Times who described him as "a pleasant pistol-packing pawnbroker." His granddaughter was also working the counter in 1988. Maybe she's still there.

photo: michael dashkin


Anonymous said...

Ever since I read Lora Brody's description in Growing Up on the Chocolate Diet of the Bickford's hamburgers she ate while pregnant with her first child, I've always wished I could try them for myself. That building really is gorgeous. When I saw the Vornado signs go up, my heart sank. You'd think that by now I'd be used to it, but maybe that's something to which you never get used -- or shouldn't, anyway.

Kate Anne said...

My dear old neighbor having moved to Florida has inadvertently given me a gift via her niece breaking up the house. A Bickford's handpainted New Castle china luncheon plate was left out by the trash and I claimed the pretty thing and had to research "Bickford's" -- Thanks for the info and the links. I came to NYC to live in 1988. A young Agatha no doubt enjoyed breakfast at Bickford's and lunches too. The plate will be treasured for her and for its place in NYC history.

Unknown said...

Use to shoot pool there on the 3rd floor with neighborhood hustlers and guys who worked in the adult store downstairs. Most times I'd be there practicing alone. It was like my own little sanctuary. Edmund was the night manager for decades.Most adult stores were run by Shrilankans but this one didn't have any. It was black, latino's and a couple of white guys like Bobby the day manager. Nice guy. I met Billy Preston there.