8 November, 2007
Gertel's Bakery, 1914-2007, died last week from complications arising out of escalating land prices, finally succumbing to demolition on November 2. It was 93.
Born at 53 Hester Street, Gertel's storefront had long been a fixture of Manhattan's Lower East Side. Between the early forties and late fifties, the store acquired a new facade, with the store name rendered in a carefully executed script, and a "streamer" below. The auxiliary lettering, including the memorable one-liner "Bakers of Reputation," was made in the contrasting "gaspipe" style of flat sides and rounded tops.
In a daring (and endearing) move, its neon sign included three different forms of the letter "E," which friends recall fancifully as a nod to the neighborhood's melting pot history. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Gertel's was regularly photographed in public, though often unable to hide the tragic effects of irreversible sun damage.
Gertel's will likely be survived by a condominium, Luxury, and an awning, Arial. —TFJ
Photo: Jeremy Perez-Cruz, 2007
8 October, 2007
The Guerilla Anagrammer
Photo: Jack Szwergold
One of Andy's photographs features his friend Albert walking before a giant FU on a Williamsburg sidewalk. "The letters used to spell out You Are Beautiful," Andy explained, "before someone started moving them around the neighborhood..." It reminded me of a similar bit of guerilla anagramming in my neighborhood: a few years ago, our local movie theater finally gave up the ghost after 93 years. During the brief interregnum between tenants, someone had a few weeks of nighttime fun with the marquee.
For a while, I got most of my news from this sign, whether it was the looming SARS epidemic or the equally ominous appointment of Chief Justice Roberts. Jack Szwergold has collected them all on Flickr; the ones that make the least sense are among the most entertaining. — JH
2 October, 2007
Until the Next Type Tour...
Observing the rare Square-Sided Warbler (Chaetornis Quadratis) in its natural habitat.
After taking a moment to recover, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who came out for the AIGA/NY "Alphabet/City" type tour this past weekend. Being a native New Yorker, I've come to think of the city's lettering as a kind of home to me. So it was a real pleasure to see so many people ready to walk the streets for hours and look at letters, reaching for their cameras to capture an old carving, or some weatherbeaten shopfronts...Continues...
1 October, 2007
More Type Tour Photos
John Kwo posted this Flickr set with some beautifully crisp photos from the type tour. Don't miss some of the great inscriptional lettering to be found on lower Manhattan's municipal buildings, including these spirited NH and TT ligatures.
Over at Villatype, Joe Shouldice has assembled some instructive comments to accompany his photos. Points for relating why signpainters' dropshadows point left instead of right, and defining the term "gaspipe lettering."
You've got to admire the rudeness of the above, from Michael Surtees' Flickr set. Michael captured some other excellent moments, including this unlikely but fabulous set of inscriptional, inline, sans-serif, old-style figures. — JH