A 2009 images of the Pitkin Avenue Bootery in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Image via Store Front II
The increasing homogenization of businesses is apparent everywhere: the uniform fast-food chains sprouting up in neighborhoods around us, the Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts cups many commuters hold on the subway, and even the similar clothing brands people choose to purchase from. With this in mind, City Lab recently published a series of photos showing New York City’s “endangered mom and pop stores” from James and Karla Murray’s new book Store Front II, which documents New York City’s diverse, family-owned businesses before they disappear. On the cover is Village Cigar, which has in front of it a memento of type of fight – Hess Triangle, once the smallest plot of land at 500 square inches, holding out against eminent domain.
Shockingly, just one-third of the stores the Murrays’ photographed in their 2008 book, Store Front: the Disappearing Face of New York, are still standing, showing how quickly small businesses have shut down. Here are some images of New York City’s “mom and pop” stores fromStore Front II.
One interesting family-owned business featured in the book is the Mansoura’s Oriental Pastry shop on Kings Highway. According to City Lab, the Mansoura family has been in the pastry business since the 1700s, selling their Middle Eastern treats around the world.
A photo of the shop in 1977.
Mansoura’s Oriental Pastry in 2009. Image via Store Front II
Interestingly, the Mansouras chose the word “oriental” for their business because it was based on the French word Moyen-Orient, meaning the “Middle East,” (though some New Yorkers have consequently confused the business for selling East Asian pastries). Today, its sign reads “Mansoura Patisserie and Confiserie.”
Check out these other photos from the book:
New Caporal Fried Chicken and Shrimp in Washington Heights, 2010
House of Oldies record store in Greenwich Village, 2010
Morscher’s Pork Store in Ridgewood, 2009
Ray’s Candy Store in the East Village, 2013
A tire shop in Flatbush, 2009
Join James and Karla Murray, as they lead Untapped Cities readers on an upcoming STOREFRONT: A HISTORIC EAST VILLAGE FOOD TOUR, where you will learn about the diverse German, Italian, Jewish and Ukrainian history of the East Village and try some fresh homemade mozzarella, drink an authentic New York City egg cream or have a freshly roasted cup of coffee, taste a hot Ukrainian potato pierogi with toppings, sample a freshly baked Jewish sugar cookie, enjoy an authentic New York hot dog and tropical drink and taste a freshly baked cannoli. Enough food will be sampled so that for most people lunch afterwards is not needed. Get tickets here:
Next, check out 13 of NYC’s old school butcher shops, a guide to NYC’s vintage bars, cafes and restaurants, or Manhattan’s Best Consignment, Vintage and Thrift Shops. Get in touch with the author @sgeier97