Loosely translated, "This restaurant does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, physical or socioeconomic condition, or for any other reason." It's a common sign throughout the city.
No se discrimina Fabio's Restaurante Ignacio Allende 15, Coyoacán, Mexico City
This advertisement overlooks the plaza fronting the Parroquia Santo Tomas Apostal la Palma, immediately to the west of Mexico City's sprawling Mercado de la Merced. From beneath the faded and peeling pack of goma de mascar (that is, chewing gum) other, older signage has begun to emerge. An unknown brand of refresco (soft drink) is the most legible.
Wrigley's Winterfresh Surviving signage, Anillo de Circunvalación 6, Centro, Zona Centro, Mexico City
Korbro I've discussed before; Montrose, though reportedly a family-owned business for some 60 years, has left little trace other than this sign. Korchin, whose sign is the most faded, has the most celebrated legacy. The successor business, Marshall Smoked Fish, was acquired by an out-of-state company in 2003; it's unclear how much of its fish, if any, is still smoked in Brooklyn.
This seemingly abandoned storefront has been shuttered since 2007, at the latest. How many of its steam tables and kitchen hoods, I wonder, are still in service?
Also shown, from down the avenue: a former showroom, whose celebrated parent company ceased production a half-century ago. Although few Studebakers still take to the road, the most influential have been reverently preserved.
Restaurant equipment, counter steam table Surviving signage, 1415 Bedford Ave. (St. Marks Ave.-Prospect Pl.), Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Although the brothers did not live to see the 20th century, their namesake business was successful enough to commission this headquarters building, completed in 1913. A menu from that same year, by the handsome St. Denis Hotel, offered a pint of "Guinness's Stout, E&J Burke" for the then-stately price of 30 cents. The building served as headquarters and for storage only briefly, however, until 1922, when the company moved its Prohibition-era enterprises from Manhattan to Long Island City, Queens.
E&J Burke resumed brewing operations in the 1930s, after Repeal, but despite the company's strong ties to Guinness, its fortunes never fully recovered. The company ceased operations in 1954 — only a few years after Honda (whose Westside dealership appears in the first photo) began a similar journey, kickstarting a business overseas before expanding to these shores.
E&J Burke Surviving signage, 616 West 46th St. (Eleventh-Twelfth Aves.), Manhattan
Yakshas are members of "a broad class of nature-spirits ... in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist literature." They may be male or female; many are benevolent, even mischievous. In Thailand, however, where statues of yakshas guard the gates to many Buddhist temples, generally they are given a fearsome appearance that includes bulging eyes, protruding fangs, and what appears to be a stafflike weapon, but perhaps is a massive sword not yet drawn from its sheath.
This Bayside, Queens, mural portrays the architecture of Bangkok against the skyline of New York, much as the restaurant's name combines BK and NY. Also juxtaposing East and West: A towering yaksha guarding a humble parking-lot service door, and a "weapon" that, on close inspection, is nothing more than a gaily painted drainpipe.
BKNY Thai Restaurant 47-11 Francis Lewis Blvd. (at Rocky Hill Rd.), Bayside, Queens 718-281-1900 www.BKNYThai.com
This old neon sign came to light again in 2016, when a narrow 19th-century storefront — once home to a location of the Loft's candy empire — began its transformation from boutique to pizzeria. The newly uncovered glass tubing was intact but (presumably) no longer functional; after the tubing was removed, the open metal channels were dingy, to say the least. Since then the sign has been spiffed up considerably.
It's unclear whether the Loft's sign will remain here or move elsewhere. One report maintains that the new pizzeria, part of the Two Boots chain, "will pay homage to the original neon sign outside with its own neon lettering." But a coppered ceiling — hidden away until recently on a second floor used only for storage — should find new admirers in the pizzeria's upstairs lounge.
Founded in Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century, Schorsch & Co., "paper bag manufacturers," relocated in 1913 and operated here, in the Bronx, until going out of business in 1951. The company's kraft-paper sacks were marketed to the trade for packing items in bulk: "coffee, spices, rice, beans, nuts, or any loose groceries." On a more personal scale, smaller sacks were, and still are, useful for brown-bagging lunch if things head south.
Using color to impart meaning is a common practice among graphic designers and signmakers. Sometimes single colors are applied to entire words; for example, "hot" and "cold" can be depicted, respectively, in red and blue. Sometimes a word will be rendered in many colors, one for each letter, to suggest a variety of flavors.
And sometimes color is used in a manner that resists easy interpretation. Consider the signs of three Korean businesses: Chang's Family Restaurant, Daheen Wang Mandoo (now called Dong's Family Cuisine, with different signage), and Jahn Chi Jahn Chi. Their principal lettering is rendered in a single color, respectively white, black, and blue, but in each case two of the figures are tipped in red. The repeated appearance of this motif suggests some meaning that I haven't been able to fathom.
My inquiries at these businesses (and others, with similar signage) have proved unavailing. If you can shed any light, please do.
Red-tipped Korean script Various locations, Queens