Author Thomas Rinaldi, who wrote the book New York Neonis our tour guide for our upcoming tour of Greenwich Village’s Disappearing Neon Signs on October 19th. Here, he shares about the origins of the famous neon sign at the White Horse Tavern.

Greenwich Village has seen a number of great old signs disappear in recent years to make way for facsimiles. Fedora, the Village Vanguard, the Waverly Restaurant… some of the replacement signs are better than others. But the lovely old swing sign at Casa Oliveira Liquors, at 98 Seventh Avenue South, seems likely to be with us for some time to come, thanks to a new coat of paint applied over its old sheet metal work a few years back.


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Greenwich Village is blessed with an especially dense concentration of vintage neon signs. Signs like these advertised businesses large and small throughout the city beginning in the 1920s and 1930s.  They fell out of favor in the 1960s due to rising costs, restrictive zoning ordinances, and the appearance of less costly forms of outdoor advertising. In recent years, they have all but disappeared as old, independent businesses across the city have succumbed to rent hikes and old age. Join us on  on July 7th at 7:30 pm with Thomas Rinaldi, author of New York Neon will take us past about a dozen signs dating to the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, marking the locations of some of the neighborhood’s most stalwart restaurants, bars and small businesses.  We will see them at dusk, as they start to come to light and when they look their best.  Some have been beautifully restored; all are in perpetual danger of disappearing.  We will discuss their materials, design, origins and future!


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Brooklyn-based French photographer Franck Bohbot has a new series New York Light On that features the storefronts of New York City that illuminate the dark streets at night. No stranger to photographing New York (the photographer also released a series on Chinatown earlier this year), New York Light On features some of the most iconic NYC storefronts.  (more…)

Images by Thomas Rinaldi

Photo projects like “Humans of New York” tell some amazing stories that are often forgotten in the chaos of the city. While “Humans” is truly monumental, many other projects exist that fall into the category of “epic New York City art projects that can’t help but touch our jaded little hearts,” as coined by New York Magazine‘s Joe Coscarelli. Giving new meaning to the aphorism, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” here are four other photography endeavors that aim to uncover wondrous parts of NYC’s “Untapped” history. (more…)

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The last thing we expect to see on a Department of Sanitation building is classical architecture, much like yesterday’s Greek temple as Manhattan Mini Storage. The Marine Transfer Station (MTS) at Pier 99, extending far into the Hudson, looks shed-like and unremarkable from a boat. But when approached from its entrance at West 59th Street, it raises a few questions. Why is the vehicle clearance structure in front of the building, for example, adorned with some very grand (albeit cheaply) recreated elements from classical architecture? Are they trying to make locals and bicyclists forget that they pass a building that deals with waste every day?



The Return of the Red Coat

If you’re a regular Art of Style reader, you might recall the column about the prevalence of red coats in the city from a few posts ago. It’s true; they’re everywhere and I never get tired of them. Now that all the fluffy, pristine snow Nemo dumped on us has made the inevitable transformation into big piles of melting grey slush, it’s refreshing to see colorful-coated New Yorkers brightening up the dreariness of the February cityscape.

As my train pulled into the station I saw this lady standing on the platform. Even though my vision was filtered through the grime-encrusted subway window, I loved how the deep red-magenta of her coat and the electric blue of her skinny jeans contrasted against the more muted colors of the tiles in the station wall. The chestnut color of her shoes and the oatmeal of her hat were a nice complement, too. On the rare occasions I put on any article of clothing as bright as this coat or these pants, I usually default to wearing black for the rest of my ensemble, but the two browns she chose definitely added an extra layer of depth to her outfit. I only got a quick few seconds of mental note-taking before my train pulled away again, but I think I got the spirit of her outfit down on paper, if not the exact details.

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