06 June 2012

Lower East Side Survivor to Close

By some miracle, the age-old Crawford Fine Gold Jewelry has quietly held down the busy corner of Canal and Forsyth for years, surviving the neighborhood's transformations from immigrant mecca to neglected slum to hipster haven. I've passed by the store many a time while on my way to the East Broadway F line stop after a night of Chinatown dining, always admiring the old neon clock that sits in the window. I never saw it operating during the daylight hours, and always wondered who patronized the sad little relic.

Yesterday, I passed by the address and saw that the shop had finally thrown in the towel. "Everything Must Go" read a sign in the door. The store is closing.

My past efforts to learn more about the store have been foiled. Though it's facade says Crawford Fine Gold Jewelry, and it is apparently legally known as Crawford Jewelry and Watch Co., the clock indicates that the name was once Crawford Norman. I always assumed Norman was a partner in the enterprise who either died or left the business.

I was more successful in my sleuthing attempts this time. I discovered that there was a jewelry store here as early as 1915, though I am not certain it was Crawford. In that year, a young jewelry located here was arrested for accepted $2,000 in jewels and disappearing with them. His very apt name was Herman Wander.

The building seems to have been full of jewelers in years gone by. (It is six stories tall.) S. Epner, a dealer in jewels, worked out of this address in 1914. In 1932, a diamond dealer named John Bosner had an office here. Jeweler Abraham Kleinman operated here in the 1930s.

There was a jewelry concern here in 1973, when the place was again robbed, with burglars shoving a 4,000-pound safe through a second floor window and (amazingly) lifting it into a truck and speeding away. Don't see that kind of brazen robbery anymore. But the place was called the Sherre Diamond Company, run by Val Sherre.

So who the hell was Crawford? Or Norman? That clock is easily 60 years old. There's got to be some record of the shop's history.


dmarks said...

Nice clock. I hope it doesn't get destroyed.

snapdragon.ap12@gmail.com said...

I was just watching an old classic of Ray Harryhausen with Kenneth Tobey and Lee Van Cleef and noticed the same jewelry store and wondered if it was still in business. Everytime i see that rather iconic building sitting peculiarly on that corner it makes me remember the other retail giants that lost their luster, much to the dismay of many. Wanamaker's, Lit Brothers and Woolworth's...all bring great memories to me and Crawfords in NY is no exception. There should be a place in history that people can read about these retailers. If you find anything about Crawfords, it would be great if you could post it!

Dorothy McQuisten said...

I have a watch that I used to mail in to Norman Watch Co Importers of Norman & Crawford Watches 181 Canal St New York, NY 10013- for repair. I need them now for the same repair to fix a broken stem. I just found the box I used to mail the watch in and decided to look it up. I have the bill for a whopping $2.50 dated 5-9-75 also the original guarantee and the small Manilla envelope with the top torn off with the initials AHN Sad to see that it was left like this. Dorothy McQuisten, Monroe MI