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Store Front (Mini) - The Disappearing Face of New York Hardcover – January 28, 2011


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Store Front (Mini) - The Disappearing Face of New York + New York Nights + Brooklyn Storefronts
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gingko Press; Min edition (January 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584234075
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584234074
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 8.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

New York’s storefronts constitute the city’s vernacular architecture, shaping the look and feel of the five boroughs no less than more celebrated elements of the skyline. These unfussy, elegant, and richly colored photographs of butcher shops, bakeries, fabric wholesalers, cuchifritos stands, stationery and sporting-goods stores, laundromats, groceries, and dive bars give connoisseurs of signage, folk typography, and ambient erosion much to pore over. Shops that opened in the nineteen-seventies now look as ancient as those dating back to the twenties. The tone is elegiac as much as it is celebratory; interviews with shop owners make it clear how close to extinction many of them stand, and the photographers report that nearly a third of these businesses have gone under in the time that it took to make the book.
Copyright ©2008 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Review

From The New York Times Book Review (April 5, 2009): For those who think modernization is always a virtue, the demise of these relics may be a good thing. For me, it marks the end of an era of sign painting and storefront innocence. Which is why my eyes widened when I saw James T. Murray and Karla L. Murray s..... STORE FRONT: The Disappearing Face of New York..... The Murrays, authors of two books on graffiti art, Broken Windows and Burning New York, have been photographing storefronts for more than eight years, and in this book they employ large-scale horizontal pages (and a few gatefolds) as they track their odyssey from the Lower East Side to Harlem to the Bronx, from Brooklyn to Queens to Staten Island. If you're at all interested in the passing cityscape, this book is a documentary mother lode; if you're happy to see these joints disappear, it might at least kindle appreciation for them. The Murrays photographs, however, do not romanticize these not very picturesque locales. The images are bright and crisp, though most of what the authors photographed was dingy and covered with graffiti; quite a few fronts and signs were falling apart or grungy to begin with. Yet it is in this state of decay that the stores hold a curious fascination indeed, a raw beauty for anyone concerned with vernacular design. I was particularly taken with the Lower East Side remnants that are slowly being squeezed out by hip restaurants and shops. Zelig Blumenthal's religious articles store, on Essex Street, appears not to have changed since my grandparents lived nearby. The Hebrew lettering on the window is as clean as it was back then. Meanwhile, at Rabbi M. Eisenbach's shop, the painted signs seem to be fading. Beny's Authorized Sales and Service, which sells fine jewelry, electric shavers, lighters, pens, is not just a throwback; it also exhibits a totally alien aesthetic compared with that of most stores today. Store Front is not mired in nostalgia. Take the photograph of the (now closed ) Jade Mountain Restaurant, on Second Avenue near 12th Street, where I ate cheap Chinese food as a teenager. It is not a storefront I get misty-eyed seeing again; even the so-called chop-suey-style sign lettering does not make me long for what's lost. But it's part of a larger mosaic that was (and is) New York s retail consumer culture. The book is also a study of urban migration, featuring Jewish delis and Italian latticini freschi stores downtown, Hispanic bodegas and Irish bars uptown, and a white-bread Howard Johnson's in Midtown (now gone). There are also photos of single blocks, with various contrasting storefronts tightly packed next to one another, that resemble a third-world market. Downtown is much more alluring than uptown but maybe that's because I was raised downtown. --Steven Heller for The New York Times. --The New York Times Book Review --New York Times

From Publishers Weekly (March 7, 2011): Anyone who loves the compact, diverse small businesses that are a part of urban living will be fascinated with the new, compact version of this labor of love from the Murrays (Burning New York). The authors, who have been working on this project for eight years, are shocked by the rapid changes to their chosen subject; changes to zoning, rent, and families have contributed to a rapid loss of the sorts of small businesses showcased here, in vivid photos shot on 35mm film. The Murrays divide their book into five chapters, one for each borough, and include neighborhood maps and brief histories. Photographs are accompanied by their own narratives or those of business owners, providing details about former locations, family history, products on display, and more. Manhattan, home to many of the institutions, buildings, and diverse neighborhoods that have made New York famous, occupies nearly half of the book. Readers will feel an immediate nostalgia for the famously walkable city; a single block can contain a bakery, restaurants, stores selling clothing, jewelry, gifts, linens, musical instruments, sporting goods, and more. This handsome little book will make non New Yorkers want to skip Times Square on their next visit in favor of catching some of these neighborhood spots before they're gone for good. --Publishers Weekly

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Great book and service.
Joseph C. Veach
The photos are great and the written descriptions often include interviews with the store owners.
Dave M.
A great coffee table book.
M. Rodriguez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on February 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Well, it was open last week, I went in and bought something" A familiar thought if you live in a city, large or small, across the Nation and discover that the store that had been there for decades is now closed: probably for good. James and Karla Murray have done us all a favor by capturing, for ever, the changing store front scene in New York. Amazingly, as mentioned in their introduction, almost a third of the stores in the book have closed!

The 220 photos (with some repeated in four huge fold-outs) cover the five boroughs with each getting a simplified street map and the relevant neighborhood indicated, some copy provides background to the name and how the area originated. What gives the book a lift though is the frequent addition of interviews with the storeowners who provide insights about the history of their premises and the products they sell.

All the photos are straight on shots of the store fronts but don't think for a minute that this might be sort of boring because these stores are a kaleidoscope of colorful window displays with products, notices and neon signs, awnings, and an amazing selection of lettering for their names, plus many of them desperately need some renovation and this adds texture to the surrounding building. Photos that are this content rich just don't need any gimmicks or trendy angle shots. The book's large size also adds to their impact (check out the Product Details).

This is a large, chunky, beautifully produced coffee table book (though a shame it wasn't printed with a finer screen than the 175 used). I wouldn't have thought that photos of store fronts would have yielded such a fascinating collection of stunning photos but here they are. A visual treat!

***SEE SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By La Ura Loos on April 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
After looking through Store Front, I felt like I was right back in NYC when I lived there over 40 years ago. The hundreds of gorgeous photos of these old mom-and-pop stores brought back memories of my own neighborhood and shopping trips downtown from The Bronx and summer outings to Coney Island. I also enjoyed reading all the interviews with store owners and finding out the "secret" to their survival. I have this massive book on my table and everyone who comes over spends time flipping through it and want to take it home with them. I plan on visiting many of the stores that were highlighted because the photographers kindly gave the exact address of each store in every borough. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever lived in New York, visited New York or just interested in seeing the stores that make NYC the special place that it is.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A WRITER on January 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Amazing, enormous book filled with page after page of panorama photos and single mom-and-pop stores. I especially loved the huge fold-outs and reading all the interviews. What else can I say, the book is outstanding and I'll treasure it forever. I've told everyone I know to buy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harald Widemann on June 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
During a vacation I saw this book in a shop close to Central Park. Then back in Germany I decided to purchase it. With great interest I read all descriptions about New York and the stores to which the storefronts belong to. With this book I learn more about NY's history than with any other source. This book enriches my personal library
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mel Wittenstein on May 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A beatifully produced walk through the DNA of important New York city commercial businesses, I can't thank the books creators enough. I there enough material for a volume II?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Janko Puls on February 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Whenever I leave New York for a week or so - the first thing on my return is to walk through my neighborhood in downtown Manhattan and see what's left. The radical pace of changes doesn't slow down. And sometimes I have to make yet another little mark into my copy of "Store Front" when one of these places is gone forever.

The Murrays have done an incredible job on so many levels: They documented and preserved a vital part of New York that is rapidly changing to the worse. While New York always was a place of radical change and fast development, this phase in the early 21st century seems to annihilate the city's past and rip out its soul. The work of Jim and Karla Murray is a most valuable contribution to the city's history. The texts bring each place to life, not only for born and bred New Yorkers, but also for anyone who loves this city and just knows a little bit about it. The voices of the shop owners make the reader connect with the storefronts in an instant. You might laugh or cry about what you read, but I think that the Murrays did set indeed a new standard in urban documentation - because they add so much more.

On another level, Jim & Karla Murray grabbed the beauty and particular culture of storefront lettering - an aesthetic joy in its own - and coming from their interest in graffiti culture, it seems to be quite a natural development. For their follow up title "New York Nights" the Murrays revisit many of these places, just to add the other dimension through nocturnal appearances, bathed in neon and Tungsten lights. Their photographic style seems to be deadpan in the first place - until you start paying attention to more and more details and notice which decisions went into the photographic process.
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