At least two bygone Jersey City businesses are evidenced in this photo from my archives. The older layer of signage advertises a pharmacy, the newer, a liquor store. I took this photo in 2009 while documenting the passage of a later business at this location, Bombay Cafe, which offered a cornucopia of exotic ice cream flavors — including thandai, chickoo, kesar pista, and gaajar halwa — and perhaps a dozen seats in which to enjoy them, even in inclement weather. The current tenant, of several years' standing, is a retailer of mobile phones.
First a pharmacy, later a liquor store Surviving signage, perhaps effaced but probably only covered, 771 Newark Ave. (just west of John F. Kennedy Blvd.), Jersey City
Above and beyond that faded sign for a long-forgotten produce market is another sign, to all appearances a giant golf ball. It's teed up atop the Revel, a half-mile in the distance, at 47 stories the tallest structure in Atlantic City. When the hotel-casino opened in 2012, that distinctive illuminated spheroid was dubbed "The Pearl," in recognition of the Revel's reward program for high rollers. Little more than two years later, it went dark: The Revel was one of four Atlantic City casinos to shutter in 2014. Looking ahead, which of these two signs will outlast the other? My money's on the greengrocer.
Fruits, vegetables Surviving signage, 1200 Atlantic Ave. (Chalfonte-North Carolina Aves.), Atlantic City, New Jersey
"There are doubtless a dozen ways for reaching 32 Mulberry Street, but a lazy epicurean adventurer can only suggest that you follow the line of least resistance and hail a taxi. For bordering Mulberry Street, avenues and streets run in all directions. The Ghetto twists and curls through Little Italy; Little Italy bubbles over into the Bowery; the tributaries of the Bowery trickle off into Chinatown, and around the corner from Chinatown lies Mulberry Street and Moneta's. It's all pretty complicated we can tell you, but it's well worth the trip.
"In the little white-tiled room that is Moneta's, ruled over by the watery gray eye of Papa Moneta himself, you can close your ears to the rumbling of the Elevated a half block away, the whistles of the push-carts just outside the door, the jabber of the local youths bent on opening taxi-cab doors, and settle yourself before a dinner such as only Pere Tranquil, or Charles Sebillon himself, might prepare for you.
"The room is small so small that it seems almost tiny. Also, it is fairly bare. At one end there is a table literally bulging with fresh-killed poultry, with raw peppers, broccoli, melons, and huge, inviting cheeses. At Moneta's, if you're so inclined, you may select your dinner in the raw. ..."
The copper letters above the entrance memorialize an importer of food products, founded in 1882, that was successful enough by 1909 to commission these bespoke premises. Among the company's imported brands, according to a 1939 photo, were Umberto Olive Oil and Marie Elisabeth Sardines.
That period photo also includes a name still visible today: "SAPCO BUILDING." (It was the sight of that name, faintly visible even from a distance, that led me here in the first place.) The meaning of S and A are clear enough: The first is for Frederick Gottfried Strohmeyer, the company's founder, the second, for Herman Arpe, who seems to have been employed by Strohmeyer from the start and who made partner around 1895. P surely honors Col. Gustav Porges, who joined the firm as partner after World War I, "fresh from his assignment as General "Black Jack" Pershing's chief food procurement officer." Although almost universally slighted in online accounts, the colonel does receive his due on the Strohmeyer website — a century later, the company, now based in New Jersey, is still a going concern.
Strohmeyer & Arpe Co. Surviving signage, 139-141 Franklin St. (at Varick St.), Manhattan
A rebus is a compact means of delivering a message in pictorial form. Some rebuses must be puzzled out, but to attract passers-by, a telegraphic image such as "two slices" would seem to be more effective. Like the other examples cited below, this signboard doesn't dispense with text altogether. The green lettering helps to visually separate the oversized "2" and "5"; the recessive type in the lower right corner ensures that the tax man gets his due.
At one time, no doubt, this was an Italian-American pizzeria. When I first passed this way some years ago, it was doing business as Roma Pizza Restaurant (a name still lettered on the windows), but a hand-drawn list of specials signaled a change in ownership. Many of these newer items have been codified on the menu, though in a section of their own, separated from the more traditional fare just as the middle flag out front is set apart from its neighbors. Nowadays, you can order chaulafan, and you can order pizza, but you can't get an Ecuadorian-fried-rice pizza. Perhaps that's just as well — but the possibility of a churrasco, fritada, or carne asada pie might be worth asking about.
La Sorrentina Pizza & Restaurant 245 Adams St. (Nichols-East Kinney Sts.), Newark, New Jersey 973-465-9555 Closed Tuesday
The spelling is odd, and at least two centuries old: It figured in the title of an 1802 satirical print published in London. In New York, an 1846 directory identified 273 proprietors whose business included the word "segar," a mere 21 that mentioned "cigar." For reasons unclear, the phonetic spelling gradually fell out of favor over the course of the 19th century.
The premises shown here date to 1810. The initials "G.H." (date and full name unknown) appear above the left-hand door, whose slot for "lettres" is painted shut; following that pointed finger won't get you far. For the current bar-restaurant, take the door to the right — but no smoking, please.