Open for Business: The Art of the Storefront

An Exhibition by James & Karla Murray

November 24, 2020 - January 25, 2021

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) is pleased to present the latest exhibition in the Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Gallery, a collection of photographs capturing some of New York’s most iconic mom & pop shop storefronts in the lead up to Small Business Saturday and the holiday season. From hosiery to work boots, wontons to knishes, small businesses across the five boroughs have continued to open their doors and serve their community throughout this difficult year.

We hope you will take a moment to view the exhibition below and be inspired to shop in your local neighborhood this holiday season. Looking for a few ideas? MAS highlighted a handful of examples for great local holiday gifts in our Small Business Saturday message.

To View Captions, click here

1. Russ & Daughters Appetizers: Lower East Side, Manhattan. Has been in business since 1914 & now run by fourth-generation co-owners Niki Russ Federman & Joshua Russ Tupper.

2. McSorley’s Old Ale House: East Village, Manhattan, pictured with owner, Matthew Maher (R.I.P.). It has been in business since 1854 and is now being run by his daughter Teresa Maher. It is considered to be the oldest continuously running bar in New York.

3. White Horse Tavern: Greenwich Village, Manhattan. In business since 1880 and is located in one of the few wood frame structures left in NYC.

4. Teddy’s Bar & Grill: Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was founded in 1887 and claims to be the oldest continuously running bar in Brooklyn.

5. Frank’s Sporting Goods in the Bronx. It has been in business since 1922 and is now run by the 2nd generation owner Moe Stein.

6. Russo’s Mozzarella & Pasta: East Village, Manhattan. It has been in business since 1908 and continues to make fresh homemade mozzarella in their basement daily.

7. Veniero’s Pasticceria & Caffe: East Village, Manhattan. This is the oldest continuously running pasticceria in Manhattan and has been in business since 1894. It is now being run by fourth-generation owner Robert Zerilli.

8. Long Island Bar & Restaurant: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. This historic seafarer’s bar/restaurant was founded in 1951 by Emma & Buddy Sullivan and remained empty for many years after Emma retired but was fully restored including its historic neon signage and reopened in 2013.

9. Corner Bistro: West Village, Manhattan. This bar/bistro has been in business since 1960 and is known for its iconic burgers which were lauded by Mimi Sheraton in the New York Times. The historic bar operated as a speakeasy during prohibition.

10. Vesuvio Bakery: SoHo, Manhattan. This Italian bread bakery was established in 1920 by Nunzio & Jennie Dapolito. After closing in 2009 and then operating as a pastry shop, selling cookies, pies, and sweets under a different name, Vesuvio Bakery reopened in March 2020 with a new owner paying homage to the original bakery selling breads, cookies and sandwiches.

11. Marie’s Crisis Cafe: West Village, Manhattan. This historic basement bar dates back to the 1850s when it operated as a prostitutes den and by the 1850s became a piano bar known as Marie’s. The ‘Crisis’ was later added to the name as reference to The ‘Crisis’ written by Thomas Paine who died at the site of the building.

12. Katz’s Delicatessen: Lower East Side, Manhattan. This historic delicatessen was established in 1888 and is famous for its Jewish deli foods including its hand-carved pastrami and corned beef sandwiches as well as its salami and hot dogs.

13. Block Drugs: East Village, Manhattan. This second-generation family-owned pharmacy originally opened in 1885. It retains much of its original interior and has a historic wrap-around neon sign.

14. Frankel’s: Sunset Park, Brooklyn. This work clothing and shoe store was founded in 1890 and is now being run the third-generation owner Marty Frankel.

15. Ray’s Candy Store: East Village, Manhattan. This neighborhood candy store was founded in 1974 by Ashar ‘Ray Alvarez’ Ghahraman (shown in photo). It is one of the few places in the neighborhood which has always been open 24 hours and specializes in soft-serve ice cream, egg creams, hot dogs and french fries.

16. Great NY Noodletown: Chinatown, Manhattan. This Chinese restaurant was founded in 1981 and is known for its inexpensive Cantonese classics including ginger scallion noodles and wonton soup.

17. Albanese Meats & Poultry: NoLita, Manhattan. This historic Italian butcher shop was founded in 1923 and is now being run by the fourth-generation owner Jennifer Prezioso, whose grandfather Moe Albanese taught her how to cut and trim all the meat by hand, the ‘old-school’ way.

18. Schmidt’s Candy: Woodhaven, Queens. This family-owned candy shop has been in business since 1925. The third-generation owner, Margie Schmidt continues to make homemade chocolates and candies using cast-iron molds from the 1920s.

19. East Village Meat Market: East Village, Manhattan. This Ukrainian butcher shop was founded by Julian Baczynsky in 1970 and specializes in homemade kielbasa made daily and smoke over hardwood in the back of the shop.

20. House of Oldies: Greenwich Village, Manhattan. This small music shop founded by Bob Abramson sells only vinyl records and specializes in rare and out of print records from the 1950s to 1970s.

21. Mamoun’s Falafel: Greenwich Village, Manhattan. This Middle Eastern eatery has been in business since 1971 and was founded by Syrian immigrant Mamoun Chater. It is the oldest falafel restaurant in New York.

22. Ideal Hosiery: Lower East Side, Manhattan. This hosiery and undergarment shop has been in business since 1950. It is located in a landmarked Federal row house which was built by John Jacob Astor.

23. Barney Greengrass: Upper West Side, Manhattan. This appetizing shop known as ‘The Sturgeon King’ has been in business since 1946. It specializes in smoke fish, caviar, homemade sales and knishes.

24. Mendel Goldberg Fabrics: Lower East Side, Manhattan. This family-owned textile boutique was founded in 1890. It is now being run by the fourth-generation owner, Alice Goldberg.

25. Minetta Tavern: Greenwich Village, Manhattan. This historic tavern was established in 1937 and named after the Minetta Brook, a small stream that ran southwest from 23rd Street to the Hudson River. It became a famous dining spot for beatniks, celebrities and literary luminaries including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Eugene O’ Neill, E.E. Cummings, Dylan Thomas and Joe Gould.

26. Lexington Candy Shop: Upper East Side, Manhattan. This historic family-owned business was founded in 1925 and is the oldest continuously operating luncheonette in Manhattan. It retains much of its historic interior including a long lunch counter and booth seating.

27. Neil’s Coffee Shop: Upper East Side, Manhattan. This coffee shop was founded in the 1950s and has been owned by the same family since 1980.

28. Circo’s Pastry Shop: Bushwick, Brooklyn. This Italian pastry shop has been in business since 1945 and still uses the same family recipes brought over from Italy. Everything is made on the premises by hand including their own Italian ices.

29. Addeo & Sons Bakery: Belmont, the Bronx. This Italian bread bakery has been in business since 1929 in the Little Italy of the Bronx. It is now being run by third-generation brother Lawrence and Tommy Addeo.

30. Nom Wah Tea Parlor: Chinatown, Manhattan. This historic Chinatown restaurant was founded in 1920 and is now being run by the second-generation owner Wilson Tang. It is considered to be the oldest dim sum restaurant in Chinatown.

31. Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery: Lower East Side, Manhattan. This historic bakery has been in business since 1910 and retains much of its original interior. They are known for their freshly baked knishes which come in a variety of flavors including potato, kasha and spinach.

32. Patsy’s Restaurant: Theater District, Manhattan. This historic Italian restaurant was founded in 1944 by Pasquale ‘Patsy’ Scognamillo. It was Frank Sinatra’s favorite restaurant and he often dined with friends and family after recording at his nearby studio.

33. Fanelli Cafe: SoHo, Manhattan. This historic tavern has been operating as a food and drink establishment since 1847 and as a tavern since 1863. It served as a gathering spot for many artists when SoHo began transitioning from an industrial/manufacturing neighborhood to an arts destination from the 1960s through the 1980s.

34. Murray’s Sturgeon Shop: Upper West Side, Manhattan. This appetizing shop was founded by Murray Bernstein in 1946 and sells the finest smoked fish, caviar, homemade salads, knishes and soups.


About the Artists

James and Karla Murray are husband-and-wife architectural and interior photographers and multi-media artists based in New York City. For the past twenty-five years they have focused their lens on the streetscape through portraits of storefronts and shop owners and have strived to capture moments of city life that often go undocumented but capture the spirit, energy and cultural diversity of individual neighborhoods. They made it their mission to thoroughly document unique ‘mom-and-pop’ stores when they began to notice the alarming rate at which the shops were disappearing. Their critically acclaimed books include Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York, New York Nights, Store Front II- A History Preserved, and Broken Windows-Graffiti NYC. James and Karla live in the East Village of Manhattan with their rescue dog Hudson.

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