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1940s

From Bowery Boogie:

Breaking: ‘Cup & Saucer’ Ending Service on Monday After Decades on Canal Street

Posted on: July 12th, 2017 at 12:39 pm by

Say goodbye to that classic 1940s Coca-Cola sign at the corner of Eldridge and Canal Streets. Word on the block is that the fabled luncheonette, Cup & Saucer, is hanging it up. It’s closing shop after decades serving the neighborhood, thanks to a steep rent hike.

And there’s no time for you to process this information, either, as the last day of business is Monday.

Every few years, rumors surface detailing a demise that was continuously eluded. Especially after the building reportedly sold several years ago, creating much uncertainty whether the business would actually survive. Co-owner John Vasilopoulos told Metro in 2015 that he hoped the new owner would maintain the 5-year lease arrangement of the predecessor to keep afloat. Then there was the recent upstairs fire back in January, which no doubt threatened the operation. This time, however, it appears the talk is true. A tipster who frequents the establishment daily was informed by staff of the closure. Apparently, they started telling all the regular customers today.

We don’t really know what to say. The Cup & Saucer is a no-frills Lower East Side treasure that serves all strata of the community. “Giving the people of New York quality food, fast delivery, and great customer service,” as its website prominently touts. On any given morning, you find construction workers, commuters, travelers, and locals mingling at the countertop.

It’s been under the same ownership for nearly thirty years. Partners Nick Castanos (also a cook) and John Vasilopoulos took over the business in 1988, yet local lore suggests the corner kitchen dates back some 77 years. The duo also owns a diner in Ridgewood, Queens.

Our tipster surmises that the luncheonette also fell victim to the effects of failed development (i.e. the Canal Tower) and the encroaching Chinatown Bus situation that’s multiplying along Canal Street between Forsyth and Allen.


Visual Documentation of the distinguishing interior features of the now-bygone The Cup & Saucer Luncheonette (from Untapped Cities.com)

Iconic NYC Diner “The Cup & Saucer” Closing Down After Nearly 70 Years

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It’s no secret that New York City was a major destination for black people from the South during The Great Migration (for a good book on the phenomena, see The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America), and that “Harlem, located at the north end of Manhattan is still the most dense (people per square mile) Black community in the nation.”  How it got that way: a case of reverse discrimination combined with black blockbusting and white flight:

“In 1905 Philip Payton and his company, The Afro-American Realty Company, was almost single-handedly responsible for migration of blacks from their previous neighborhoods. He did this by buying, leasing, and selling empty and white owned properties to Blacks without apologies for and against the white tenets objections. Less than two decades later African Americans from the south fueled the Great Migration, taking trains from southern U.S. states, especially Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, As blacks moved in, white residents left; between 1920 and 1930, 118,792 white people left the neighborhood and 87,417 blacks arrived.”

New York City also experienced a not-insignificant uptick in Black migration/immigration in the 1980s.

MUG reports that a digital window has been provided into the historical perspective of black folk who came to NYC as either tourists or more permanent residents in the mid-20th century past. Many would likely have tried to avoid potential race-oriented confrontations or worse, by availing themselves of the following resource:

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The Green Book, published by Harlem resident Victor Green from 1936-1966, listed hotels, restaurants and other attractions and services at which black travelers would be welcome. The Schomburg Center has digitized 21 Green Book volumes.

New York’s black (or as the terminology then regarded as correct had them, “negro”) population was active in trying to secure their civil rights at various times and in various ways, too many and varied to list here, but in addition to black oriented/published papers and periodicals, they made it into the mainstream news media of the early to mid 20th century as well:
One of the photos from PM: a short-lived, but well-loved paper that circulated in NYC during the 1940s shows Adam Clayton Powell speaking at a “Negro Freedom Rally” at (an older version of) Madison Square Garden. (There is an exhibit of some select articles and photos highlighting major stories from PM in the 1940s at the Steven Kasher Gallery through February 20th.)…

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You may have never heard of a newspaper called PM. But it was one of several daily newspapers which New York City used to support in the mid-20th century. Surviving issues, some of which feature now well-known writers and photographers, provide a window into the lives and concerns of people during the 1940s, when the paper ran.

According to Untapped Cities, “the Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea is pulling the paper back into the spotlight with the exhibition “PM New York Daily: 1940-48.” Until February 20th, the gallery will show pictures from PM, taken by the biggest photographers of the ’40s including Lisette Model, Margaret Bourke-White and Weegee.

The paper was founded by Ralph Ingersoll, the managing editor of Time-Life publications who was known for his daring and defiant character. In 1941, when Stalin made an interview with Ingersoll off-the-record, the editor ran a detailed illustration of the Kremlin and pointed out the gate where Ingersoll had entered – proof that the interview had indeed happened.

In an age of press corruption, Ingersoll was adamant that PM would not publish ads. It survived on donations and subscriptions alone. Or rather it limped by. In 1946, its owner, Chicago bank millionaire Marshall Field, declared that the paper would begin accepting ads. Ingersoll resigned.

But PM‘s first five years were glorious. The paper supported President Roosevelt’s New Deal and preached the plight of the working class. From abroad, it exposed the fascism of World War II. PM reporters were writing about the mass murder of Jews as early as 1941.

You can see these articles at the gallery, where each photo is paired with a copy of the newspaper page that it appeared on. The white walls are a medley of pristine prints in elegant black frames and taped-up photocopies of newspaper articles. It’s the best and biggest scrapbook you’ve ever seen.”

I’m going to go to the exhibit if I can.…

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from the NYC MTA: MTA New York City Transit, NY Transit Museum Ring in Holidays with Vintage Buses, Subways

Vintage Train

MTA New York City Transit and the New York Transit Museum are putting extra magic on the tracks with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s annual holiday tradition of rides to the past via its vintage fleet of buses and subway trains – and the chance for transit fans to buy museum merchandise at a special station pop-up shop.

The holiday nostalgia fleet includes subway cars from the 1930s and buses from the late 1940s to the 1980s. The New York Transit Museum typically displays these vehicles during special events at the museum or around the city, but are offering these holiday nostalgia rides to the public for a limited time with the swipe of a MetroCard. Some vintage buses also will be on display at Union Square, Herald Square and at the Circle Line Terminal.

For four consecutive Sundays in December, subway customers can catch the “Shoppers Special,” a train consisting of eight cars from the 1930s that ran along the lettered lines until the late 1970s. The cars, which were ordered for the Independent Subway System (IND), were the first subway cars to be identified by their contract numbers, hence the R1/9 designations. R1/9 cars, known as ““City-Cars,” have rattan seats, ceiling fans, incandescent light bulbs, and roll signs for passenger information. Their design of more doors that were also wider and faster, plus increased standing capacity to accommodate crowds, served as the model of modern subway cars, and their dimensions are identical to the latest R160 cars. They were retired from service in 1977.

“For all intents and purposes, this was the first modern subway car and today’s subway fleets owe a lot to the design,” said Joe Leader, Senior Vice President of Subways. “They were basic, durable and offered the expected levels of customer comfort for decades after they were introduced into service. We continue to build upon this strong foundation with each new car design.”

The “Shoppers Special” will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 6, 13, 20, and 27, making local stops on the 6 Av Line from Queens Plaza to 2 Av. The first run of the day departs from 2 Av, where a special museum pop-up shop will be open every Sunday during the holiday nostalgia rides.

MTA NYC Transit is also putting a fleet of vintage buses on the M42 route for weekday daytime service between November 30 and December 18. The buses, which will operate between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., will only be available weather permitting. The vintage fleet will not operate in rainy, snowy or icy conditions.

This year’s holiday nostalgia buses were manufactured by General Motors, Mack and Flexible, three major firms that no longer manufacture buses.

“Seeing these vintage buses in service again is always a nostalgic event for many New Yorkers. My father and I drove some of these buses, which makes this an especially personal event for me,” said Darryl Irick, President of MTA Bus Company and Senior Vice President New York City Transit Department of Buses.

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Denny Daniels’ newsletter for the Museum of Interesting Things has the following information to impart: “As I mentioned, save Sept 13th for the Nautical/Prohibition Speakeasy. This week I got this 16mm film on old sailing boats just for that event! Our collection of vintage 16mm films is over 300 and has nearly every subject. From Nasa to Old cartoons to WW2 footage, circus footage and Bouncing Ball singAlong footage. I even got one vintage film on Arctic Ice and a 1940’s German one on how to make shoes. My dad was a big shoe designer.”…

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VINTAGE BUS BASH ON GOVERNORS ISLAND

Saturday July 11 & Sunday July 12
11am – 4pm
Free

Four of the Transit Museum’s vintage buses are headed to Governors Island for a summer getaway! Our Vintage Bus Bash will transport visitors back to the 1940s and 1950s. Come see iconic “fishbowl” windows, the first air-conditioned bus in the country, the bus model that Jackie Gleason drove in his role on The Honeymooners, and more. No bus fare needed – this event is free!…

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“44 Amazing NYC Places That Actually Still Exist” (Buzzfeed).

Most are bars and restaurants.

A lot of classic New York City spots might be disappearing, but you can still go to these distinctive shops, bars, and restaurants. For now, anyway.

1. Russ & Daughters, 179 East Houston St. (East Village)

Russ & Daughters, 179 East Houston St. (East Village)

Jeffrey Bary / Via Flickr: 70118259@N00

Russ & Daughters, a family-operated “appetizing store” focused on selling traditional Jewish fish and dairy products, has been a fixture of the Lower East Side since 1914. It’s one of the only existing stores in the entire country dedicated to appetizing.

2. Eddie’s Sweet Shop, 105-29 Metropolitan Ave. #1 (Forest Hills)

Eddie's Sweet Shop, 105-29 Metropolitan Ave. #1 (Forest Hills)

Joe Shlabotnik / Via Flickr: joeshlabotnik

Eddie’s Sweet Shop is an old school ice cream parlor and soda fountain that has served the neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, for over a century. It’s not too hard to find ice cream shops that aspire to capturing the vibe of an old-timey soda fountain, but this is the real deal.

3. Strand Book Store, 828 Broadway (East Village)

Strand Book Store, 828 Broadway (East Village)

Postdlf / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Strand may be the single most beloved and iconic used book store in the entire city, and has been a destination for bibliophiles around the world for nearly a century. The store contains a staggering amount of books and truly lives up to its hype.

4. Di Fara Pizza, 1424 Avenue J (Midwood)

Di Fara Pizza, 1424 Avenue J (Midwood)

apasciuto / Via Flickr: apasciuto

Di Fara has been around since the mid-’60s but made the shift from local treasure to a destination spot for world class pizza sometime in the past decade or so. The pizza is so good that people are willing to travel from all over the city and wait for up to three hours to get a pie handcrafted by restaurant founder and pizza auteur Dom DeMarco.

5. Generation Records, 210 Thompson St. (Greenwich Village)

Generation Records, 210 Thompson St. (Greenwich Village)

Daniel Lobo / Via Flickr: daquellamanera

Greenwich Village was once a major destination for record collectors, but this large punk and metal-centric shop is one of the few stores that’s managed to stay open over the years.

6. St. Mark’s Comics, 11 St. Mark’s Place (East Village)

St. Mark's Comics, 11 St. Mark's Place (East Village)

St. Mark’s Place has been heavily gentrified over the past 20 years, but this stalwart comics shop has stuck around despite so many seedy punk and counterculture shops getting replaced with chains like Chipotle and Supercuts. (And yes, this is the comic book store from that one episode of Sex and the City.)

7. Caffe Reggio, 119 Macdougal St. (Greenwich Village)

Caffe Reggio, 119 Macdougal St. (Greenwich Village)

Scott Beale / Via Flickr: laughingsquid

Caffe Reggio has a crucial role in the development of coffee culture in the United States — it was the first establishment to sell cappuccino in America back in the 1920s. The cafe still has its original espresso machine, which dates back to 1902, and was purchased by founder Domenico Parisi when he opened the place in 1927.

8. Old Town Bar on 45 East 18th St.

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Death in a Nutshell: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death: Illustrated lecture with Bruce Goldfarb, executive assistant to the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland
Date: Thursday, February 27
Time: 8:00
Admission: $8
Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death is an extraordinary collection of miniature dioramic death scenes, hand-crafted in the 1940s in obsessive detail by Frances Glessner Lee. They were — and still are — used to train police in the methods of forensic death investigation. Lee, a wealthy socialite with no formal education who in middle age was commissioned by the New Hampshire State Police, is considered the mother of modern, scientific death investigation; she is also said to be the inspiration for the character of Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote. Ttonight’s illustrated lecture will tell the fascinating story of Frances Glessner Lee and her Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Later, on Saturday, March 29th, join Morbid Anatomy for a special field trip to Baltimore featuring a tour of The Nutshells and the forensic facilities by Mr. Goldfarb. Visits to additional “Charm City” highlights will be organized with the help of our guide, rogue taxidermist and “angelic boyfriend” Robert Marbury.

More info here.

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