15 February 2010

Elpine Drinks


Aaron Signs, blogger possessed of great old pictures of mid-20th-century New York, has posted two photos of Elpine Drinks stores, one at 46th and Seventh (I think), above, and one on W. 50th Street, below.

Which is enough motivation for one to ask: What's Elpine Drinks?

According to a New York magazine article in June 1969, the stand at 46th served, "orange juice squeezed to order 24 hours a day every day of the year, 7 ounces for 35 cents, 10 ounces for 50 cents. You can sit down on a stool in the rear, but most patrons drink alfresco, standing on the sidewalk of Times Square."

According to the signs, the joints also served pure-beef hamburgers and grilled frankfurters. But "Elpine Fruit Drinks" seems to have been their calling card. Pineapple, papaya, coconut, etc. The inside signage reminds me very much of Gray's Papaya.

A reader who remembers the place on 46th writes "I can still see the plastic cone cup holders that held the wax paper cups filled with pulpy juice."

I can not be sure, but, judging by the picture, and my memories of the movie, I think the 46th Street stand was used in the opening scene of "The Sweet Smell of Success," where Tony Curtis as press agent Sidney Falco scans J.J. Hunsecker's column at the counter before throwing it in the garbage in disgust. A 1956 New York Times item mentions the store was used in a shot for the film. I just looked at the film. A lot about the site matches the scene (the wall of glass doors, the location, the big "Frankfurter" signs on both sides), but some parts look different. It could be a matter of a revamp between when the film was shot and when this picture was taken.

There was an Elpine down on Nassau Street, too, opening up in the early '30s. The Broadway store was around at least until 1973, when it received a health code violation.

10 comments:

Mykola Dementiuk said...

An old one from Times Square

http://www.lileks.com/NYC/timessquare/27.html

Beth in the Bronx said...

I am much more intrigued by The Gypsy Tea Kettle in the 50th street photo...

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Me, too. I will look into the Gypsy Tea Kettle.

Mykola Dementiuk said...

Fascinating history has the Gypsy Tea Kettle

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/14/nyregion/the-storefront-psychic-a-peek-inside.html?pagewanted=1

Nice pick Beth ;)))

b-dub said...

The one on 46th was directly underneath the old Smoking Camel billboard. The building was the Hotel Claridge. Currently it's the Good Morning America studio.

Ken Mac said...

Not worthy! Ahhhh, heaven.

Jeremiah Moss said...

you beat me to it! i've been collecting Elpine photos for just such a thing. nice research.

Peter said...

My father always told me about getting an orange juice and a hot dog for 15 cents when he was young and had little money. He worked a few blocks away at the Brooks Brothers flagship store on Madison. I bet he ate at Elpine regularly. If he was still alive, he'd be 91 this year.

Goji Berry said...

it's good to see this information in your post, i was looking the same but there was not any proper resource, thanx now i have the link which i was looking for my research.

notesfromaphdlife said...

Was led here by an old Times Square photo from the book "Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States" (Library of Congress, 1997) where I spied an "Elpine Drinks" on page xiii (Actually, the sign says, "Alpine Papaya Drinks" and below, "Fresh Fruit Drinks / Frankfurters). Being unfamiliar with the Square, I can only give you landmarks I can see: Alpine is on a corner, across from a large lunch counter ("Whalan's"?), with "Dixie Photo Shops," "Arrow Shoes," and "Hector's Cafeteria" the only other named locations visible. It would be interesting to know what the hand-written sign being held by the man in front of Dixie Photos has to say...

Caption reads, "Dick de Marsico. Times Square, facing uptown. Celebrating Japanese surrender, World War II. Photograph for New York World-Telegram and Sun, August 1945.