03 July 2014

The History of the Valley Candle Company

A couple years ago, I posted an item about how the television series "Miami Vice," in 1985, was allowed to blow up up an old business on Columbia Street called the Valley Candle Company.

I didn't know much about the company when I wrote that post. Since then, however, I've been contacted by a descendent of the company's founder. That was Saverio DellaValle, pictured below. (Hence, the name of the business.) Saverio came to Brooklyn from Naples in 1905. He made religious candles and delivered them to the churches in NYC. An open-minded businessman, he also made candles for the religious Jewish holidays. There were family stories that, while he was making candles, Saverio ran a still running in the factory during Prohibition. There's an enterprising gent!

The family sold the business in the '70s.

02 July 2014

Lost City: San Francisco Edition: Random Sign

Looks like I have some globe-trotting readers. A native of Edinburgh, who was recently traveling in San Francisco, snapped this shot from a taxi on mid-Market Street. "The building was having a complete renovation, and this was briefly exposed in the process," wrote the reader. "I’m assuming that it was formerly a pawn broker."

30 June 2014

Wooden Phone Booth Sighting: Harmonie Club

A reader who has been very good about spying old wooden phone booths in the City and sending me shots of them, has done so again!

This was taken inside the Harmonie Club at 4 E. 60th Street, a club I did not even know existed. The Harmonie Club was founded in 1852 and has been in its handsome McKim Mead and White designed building on 60th since 1904. "Jacket and Tie are Required. Shorts, sneakers or tennis shoes are not permitted at any time." My kind of place.

19 June 2014

Lost City: San Francisco Edition: A Good Sign: Kaye's Footwear

Old Kaye's Footwear, which once sold Florsheim Shoes in San Francisco's Chinatown, doesn't exist anymore, but the handsome sign lives on.

17 June 2014

Lost City: New Orleans Edition: A Good Sign: McKenzie's

An old bit of signage in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. It is currently the home of the Creole Creamery, an ice cream joint. McKenzie's, founded in the 1920s, was a bakery, and a bit of a legend in NOLA.

16 June 2014

The Building With the Curved Cornice

I've long been intrigued by this small trick building on Fulton Mall, largely because of its unusual, curbed cornice, which appears to be original. I've not been able to find out anything about its past life. Anyone out there known anything?

13 June 2014

Lost City: New Orleans Edition; A Perfect Storefront: United Hardware

Hole in the wall, bunker-like hardware store in New Orleans. Hard to believe it's in business. But it obviously is.

11 June 2014

Lost City: New Orleans Edition: A Good Sign: Dixie Bottle Beer

This local juke joint in the Faubourg Marigny section of New Orleans shut down some time ago. But you still have to admire the frontage, with it's huge colorful, hand-painted sign advertising Dixie Bottle Beer and 35-cent highballs. At those prices, it must have been painted in the 1950s. In it's original form, Dixie existed from 1907 to 1989.

10 June 2014

A Perfect Storefront: Franklin Street Laundromat

This is just a laundromat on Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, that I like the look of. Guess what it's called? Franklin Street Laundromat. Old painted sign. Old brick building. Old stick-on letter advertising "Prompt Service," "Drop Off Service" and "Self Service." Every kind of service!

09 June 2014

The Grandure of the 33rd Street Subway Stop

Most subway stations make you feel depressed and oppressed. They are dirty, crowded, filled with fetid air and not particularly attractive. A few raise your spirits.

I've always liked the 33rd Street Station on the 6 line, and am always surprised by its perhaps unintentional grandiosity whenever I climb down into it. It's a very low-sitting station and you have to descend a great flight of stairs to get to it. Nothing unusual there. Many subway stations lie far below the sidewalk. The difference here is that at 33rd Street you don't end up in a low-ceilinged, claustrophobic box, but in a spacious airy chamber with a great sense of flow and line.