Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Vanishing Store Fronts

At long last, I finally got over to see Jim and Karla Murray's show "Counter/Culture: The Disappearing Face of Brooklyn's Storefronts" at the Brooklyn Historical Society. The exhibit is up until March, but if you can't make it there in time, you can bring the Murrays' important work home with you.

Their book Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York is now available. A $65 hardcover, it's an investment and well worth it--the book is a big, fat collection of gorgeous color photographs from the vanishing face of New York City.

I email-interviewed Jim and Karla about their work and asked them what they look for in a choice storefront. "We try to photograph storefronts that have a certain character due to their age," they said, "Old neon signs always attract us as well as hand-painted signs and interesting fonts that we haven't seen before."

Which vanished storefronts do they miss the most? "We definitely miss Katy's Candy that was in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The Everything Store and D. D'Auria & Sons Pork Store in the Bronx and Kurowycky & Sons in our own neighborhood of the East Village."

Many more of the shops and scenes in the Murrays' book have vanished--the Astroland rocket is gone from its Coney Island snackbar perch, Love Saves the Day has shuttered, and look at their 2001 shot below of 1st Avenue between 7th and 8th Streets in the East Village. These businesses had been there for decades. But today none of it is the same--and most of it vanished in just the past few years.

from Jim and Karla's flickr

For comparison, I took the snapshot below: Kurowycky Meats is now Kim's, Cosmo's Packages is for rent after being gutted for a cafe, the beauty parlor is a Ruben's Empanadas, and the International Bar was shuttered then reopened under new management.

Not bad. It could have been worse, considering. And that just happens to be a $110,675 Mercedes G55 SUV parked at the curb.

from my flickr


Anonymous said...

I love their work... Kurowycky & Sons was one of my favorite storefronts too. Those hams! I need to get out there for their exhibit. Do you have the keys to that Mercedes SUV?

Anonymous said...

signs of the Yunnipocalpyse: see Joe's comment and others


Ken Mac said...

Thanks for the reminder.