Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York (Mini)

Overview

This is a visual tour so saturated with realism you can smell the knishes neatly displayed in the window of the Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, a visual tour comprised of hundreds of images of unique 19th and 20th century retail graphics and neon signs still in use and inspiring us to purchase to this very day. But for how long?

Are New York City s local merchants a dying breed or an enduring group of diehards hell bent on retaining the traditions of a glorious past? According to ...

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Overview

This is a visual tour so saturated with realism you can smell the knishes neatly displayed in the window of the Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, a visual tour comprised of hundreds of images of unique 19th and 20th century retail graphics and neon signs still in use and inspiring us to purchase to this very day. But for how long?

Are New York City s local merchants a dying breed or an enduring group of diehards hell bent on retaining the traditions of a glorious past? According to Jim and Karla Murray the influx of big box retailers and chain stores pose a serious threat to these humble institutions, and neighborhood modernization and the anonymity it brings are replacing the unique appearance and character of what were once incredibly colourful streets.

Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York is a visual guide to New York City s timeworn storefronts, a collection of powerful images that capture the neighborhood spirit, familiarity, comfort and warmth that these shops once embodied. Almost all of these businesses are a reflection of New York s early immigrant population, a wild mix of Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Poles, Eastern Europeans and later Hispanics and Chinese.

The variety is immense from Manhattan's Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery and Katz s Delicatessen to the Jackson Heights Florist in Queens, Court Street Pastry in Brooklyn, D. D'Auria and Sons Pork Store in the Bronx and the De Luca General Store on Staten Island. And as the Murray s stunning, large format photographs make patently clear, the face of New York is etched in their facades.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Anyone who loves the compact, diverse small businesses that are a part of urban living will be fascinated with the new, compact version of this labor of love from the Murrays (Burning New York). The authors, who have been working on this project for eight years, are shocked by the rapid changes to their chosen subject; changes to zoning, rent, and families have contributed to a rapid loss of the sorts of small businesses showcased here, in vivid photos shot on 35mm film. The Murrays divide their book into five chapters, one for each borough, and include neighborhood maps and brief histories. Photographs are accompanied by their own narratives or those of business owners, providing details about former locations, family history, products on display, and more. Manhattan, "home to many of the institutions, buildings, and diverse neighborhoods that have made New York famous," occupies nearly half of the book. Readers will feel an immediate nostalgia for the famously walkable city; a single block can contain a bakery, restaurants, stores selling clothing, jewelry, gifts, linens, musical instruments, sporting goods, and more. This handsome little book will make non New Yorkers want to skip Times Square on their next visit in favor of catching some of these neighborhood spots before they're gone for good. Photos. (Feb.)
Steven Heller
If you're at all interested in the passing cityscape, this book is a documentary mother lode; if you're happy to see these joints disappear, it might at least kindle appreciation for them. The Murrays' photographs, however, do not romanticize these not very picturesque locales. The images are bright and crisp, though most of what the authors photographed was dingy and covered with graffiti; quite a few fronts and signs were falling apart or grungy to begin with. Yet it is in this state of decay that the stores hold a curious fascination—indeed, a raw beauty—for anyone concerned with vernacular design.
—The New York Times
Library Journal

While documenting graffiti art, professional photographers James and Karla Murray noticed that the city's neighborhoods were changing quickly and many traditional storefronts were disappearing all together. The recognition of this change inspired this book dedicated to documenting storefronts. The Murrays have captured the details of New York's "mom and pop" stores including neon and hand-painted signs, old doors, peeling paint, aging steel, and the items hanging in the front windows. The text accompanying each image mentions the year the store opened and often includes detailed remembrances of the stores' histories obtained through interviews with managers or owners. Images in the book are grouped by borough and neighborhood. Each section is accompanied by a clear map outlining the area and a short description of the cultural heritage of each neighborhood. The book includes four foldout sections of panoramic photos capturing entire city blocks, so that the storefronts may be seen within the context of the locale. The book documents this subject with such deeply fascinating detail, it will be of interest to many patrons, including people who never intend to visit New York City. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.
—Valerie Nye

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584234074
  • Publisher: Gingko Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/2011
  • Edition description: Mini Edition
  • Pages: 329
  • Sales rank: 681,640
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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