Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Newspapers - Tobacco

The Village has lost a great old sign.

For many years at 233 Bleecker, above one newsstand or another, there hung a vintage sign that read NEWSPAPERS - TOBACCO.

Today, with the space for rent, there's nothing but the ghost. The letters and Coca-Cola shields have been ripped down.

Here's how it looked until recently. And, before that, back in 2007.

I always liked seeing it as a I walked by, a piece of the past that had somehow, against all odds, persevered. It was a survivor. Maybe I identified with it. Seeing the sign, I would feel a sense of relief--I'm still here--thinking, "It's still there."

And now it isn't.

They call these signs privilege signs (thanks Tom). David Dunlap at the New York Times wrote about them--and their vanishing--last year:

"What is lost along with privilege signs is a sense of modesty and history. They speak of a time when store owners did not emphasize who they were as much as what they sold: fruits, vegetables, stationery, toys, candy and sandwiches. They are a visual link to the years of the Great Depression and World War II."

Several privilege signs appear in James and Karla Murray's Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York. Most have already vanished.

As Karla told the Times: “The loss of these old signs and the stores signifies a loss in the neighborhood."


Gojira said...

No, now you have to have aluminum and digital that winks, blinks, changes color, screams some bland name, to pull in the rubes who think "ooooh coooool!" and rush in to spend their parents' money on crap.

James said...

Take a look at this example, to add to the vanishing sign list:


This is 247 Broome Street (seen by my camera in 2005). Any reference to the luncheonette is now vanished, per our theme.


Here's an other shot taken in the 90's...


Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com said...

I have always loved those "Privilege Signs" - the colors, thee compact font, the wavy background, and especially the fact that they were of an era, so when you saw one of these signs you knew it was attached to a business that had been around for a long time. Sigh for the signs. :-(

Anonymous said...

Here is my attempt to provide a link to my photo taken in 1997 or 1998 of A&S Stationary, the original storefront and owners when the sign was installed. I especially like the owl statue on the upper right to scare the vermin away.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com