Sights and Sounds of New York City of the Past

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Broadway from Chambers Street (1910)

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Just Two People on the Planet…and a Leprechaun in the Hood.

IMG_20170316_110918Heading uptown on the 1 train, I boarded along with the man seated on the left in this photo, let’s call him Don.  The man on the right was already sitting there, let’s call him Roger.

Don, dressed in an expensive suit with a fancy silk tie, pulls a section of the USA Today from his very nice brown leather briefcase.  Roger, who unfortunately apparently has had years of dental issues and has but one tooth remaining, leans over and asks “So, what’s the good news?”

Don turns to Roger and says, “Trump.  Trump is the good news!  He is going to get rid of all the waste in the government.  It’s about time someone runs it like a business.”  Roger retorts “That’s interesting, I never heard a businessman’s perspective on Trump.  That’s very interesting.”  They continued briefly on about Trump for about a minute.  I figured it would end there. Au contraire!

Don now leans over to Roger and asks, “So who do you think is going to win this thing?”, obviously referring to the upcoming NCAA tournament and showing Roger the brackets.  Don said he was going with Villanova because he was from the Philadelphia area.  Roger thought Gonzaga would do well.  Then that conversation ended.

Not half a minute later, Roger turns to Don and wishes him a Happy St. Patrick’s Day and asks him if he has any plans to be drinking some green beer.  Don said he doesn’t drink and has no plans.  Roger suggested lemonade.  Green lemonade.  Don said he might try that and they discussed how neither had anything green to wear.

Roger then shared a movie recommendation with Don, pulling me into the conversation.  “Have you ever seen ‘Leprechaun in the Hood‘? Ice-T is in it and it’s hilarious and scary at the same time.  You can catch it on Netflix.”  I asked what it was rated but he wasn’t sure.  Roger insisted again, “You gotta see it!” as I made note of it on my phone.  Don seemed less interested although I watched him silently mouth the words of the movie title with a clear question mark following them.  We were approaching my stop on 79th Street, when Roger informed both of us, “If you see this movie, you will never f**k with a leprechaun ever again!”  Duly noted.  Thanks Roger.



Digital Urban Commercial Archaeology

I was walking through the 34th Street / Herald Square subway station yesterday and walked by an area being renovated.  The renovations had exposed a sign for Korvette’s embedded in the tile.  It brought back fond memories of the Korvette’s my mother used to take us to in Paramus, NJ.


Korvette’s was the place I bought my 45’s (also known as 45 rpm records, or singles), most of which I still have.  I remember my Uncle Jack telling me that E.J. Korvette, which was the full name of the retail chain, was short for “Eight Jewish Korean Veterans” who founded the store.


Uncle Jack just happened to be a Jewish veteran, but of World War II [Uncle Gasper, on the other hand, was a Korean vet, but not Jewish].  Unfortunately, the story about the eight Jewish vets was not true. I did however find an interesting tidbit about WHY this sign was where it was, which you can read here.

This post, however, was not intended to be about Korvette’s (although a future one likely will be).  This post is about “Digital Urban Commercial Archaeology”.  I am going on the record as the FOUNDER of this discipline!  Also as the founder of the Society for Digital Urban Commercial Archaeology.  Watch for our website soon ( and if you want membership information, contact

So what is it? It is the piecing together of the history of the findings of remnants of old businesses in an urban setting by searching for information online.  Yes I made it up… but I realized it is what I do, so might as well call it something.

Below are other findings from my photo collection that I will be researching and sharing in future posts.  See you then!

Second hand noise

So this guy is sitting next to me on the train… he starts doing his email on his iPhone so every time he sends one it goes “Swoosh!”. I’m thinking “OK, a couple of emails and he’s done.” Nope. Now it’s time for solitaire. Dink. Dink. Doink. Dink. “Hey dude, you can put that Jack on the Queen…and either turn your effing volume off or put in some earphones!” No, I didn’t verbalize it.

Why is it that people think it’s fine to engage in their own form of entertainment and share the sound with the rest of us?  For decades, the Surgeon General told people smoking could kill them. It wasn’t until the scientists showed that second-hand smoke could kill the other guy that smoking bans popped up all over the country! [Which of course pushed those smokers out to the street where sidewalk pedestrians like me get to partake in their smoke…but we saved the other bar patrons from it!]

I’m going to start a movement. Going to find some scientists who will prove his stupid game sounds will cause me cancer or deafness or a mental breakdown. That’ll do it!

By the way, I think while I was tapping this out, he glanced over here, saw the title, and turned off his sound. What’s the word for visual eavesdropping?

Here’s to the Ladies who Lunch!

Let’s say you’re a well-off New York woman in the late 19th century, and you’re on an excursion to Ladies Mile—the area roughly between Broadway and Sixth Avenue and 10th and 23rd Streets where the city’s chicest emporiums and boutiques were located. Shopping is time-consuming, and your stomach starts growling. Where could you grab a […]

via Where fashionable Gilded Age ladies lunched — Ephemeral New York

Heard on the Street I

“Let’s get over this idea of snapping turtles. You’re not getting them.”


Checker Cab
A Checker Cab

I was walking along West 81st Street yesterday and saw this wonderful specimen of a Checker Cab parked on the street.  It appeared to be a working cab, but the last one checked out in 1999 [See New York Times article here].  I do recall riding in one or two when I was young.

It made me think about Latka Gravas working on them in the garage while Alex, Elaine and Tony schmoozed.  I loved that show.  The best scene, bar none, was when Jim had to get his drivers license – “What do you do at a yellow light?”

Now, apparently, the only Checker Cab you can get in New York City is Checker Cab Blonde Ale brewed by NYC’s own Chelsea Craft Brewing Company.  I think I might go get one.

Hidden Attractions and Unusual Things to Do in New York | Atlas Obscura

Discover hidden New York attractions. Find unusual things to do in New York, New York from City Hall Station to Gimbel’s Bridge.

Source: Hidden Attractions and Unusual Things to Do in New York | Atlas Obscura

Discover NYC Landmarks

Great website from the City of New York with an interactive map to find NYC Landmarks

Source: Discover NYC Landmarks

Manhattan street names on tenement corners — Ephemeral New York

If there’s an actual name for these cross streets carved or affixed to the corners of some city buildings, I don’t know what it is. But they’re fun to spot anyway. I’ve never seen one quite like this decorative sign on an otherwise unremarkable tenement at 169th Street and Broadway. Fancy, right? This one at […]

via Manhattan street names on tenement corners — Ephemeral New York