The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for January 23rd, 2011

hazy unreality

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of those long exposure shots described in earlier posts, this enchanting bit of typography adorns a storefront here in Astoria. I’ve never taken my little dog Zuzu there for a haircut, as she tends to respond better to regular brushings and a bath here at HQ than to commercial grooming endeavors, and she is a “not fancy” kind of┬ádog. That said, the reviews of the place I’ve received from other denizens of the ancient village lean toward the positive, and I understand that it’s owned by a local family who have been at this location for some time.

Personal joy, however, is derived from the atavist typography which adorns its signage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Show your work…

To begin with, this is hand painted -on metal- signage. The building that the little shop occupies has a proud stamp on its capital stating that it was completed in 1922, which was the approximate arrival of the cut and cover tunnel (correction- 1933, I’m told) carrying the IRT tracks beneath Broadway. This was the unremarkable corner of Purdy Street (or 14th avenue) and Broadway in ancient days, today it’s 44th street.

The signage, in my estimation, exhibits a certain late 1960’s or early 1970’s flair and seems typical of the sort of typography once common in that era (and especially throughout the Boroughs). My guesses about its vintage are based on a couple of details. First- the prefix number (the 3 digit part) doesn’t use an exchange or alphabetic name code, which signals that it was scribed at its earliest in the 1970’s. Additionally, it doesn’t use the familiar area code descriptors which began to plague New Yorkers as early as the 1980’s.

I could actually just go in there and ask, but where’s the fun in that?

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm

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