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NYC Snapshots – Vintage Fashion, Restaurant China, the old Empire Diner & More

Posted on: April 19, 2012


This wasn’t an official research trip up to NYC for Retro Roadmap, but more of a “catch up with a pal I’ve known since junior high school and tromp around the city” type of day. But of course we saw some Retro Roadmap worthy sights on a beautiful sunny day in New York, so I thought I would share the highlights!

Fashion Institute of Technology

Our first stop was the Fashion Institute of Technology, where we saw the Youthquake exhibit of fashions from the 1960s.

Youthquake Exhibition at FIT

This was the last day of the exhibit(though you can still see some examples of what we saw here online), but if vintage, retro and cool old fashion is something that interests you, keep an eye out on the free exhibits at the Museum at FIT.

Walking around New York City it’s fun to discover remnants of days gone by – like these “ghost signs” painted on the side of brick walls.

Ghost Signs New York City

While not a strictly vintage place, when in the city I often enjoy a wander around Fishs Eddy, a retail shop that specializes in restaurant china, flatware, glassware and all sorts of “made for the trade but perfect for your table” items.

I mention them because on this visit I spied a neat display of original vintage Syracuse China with plates on display from their showroom:

Syracuse China at Fishs Eddy

If this stuff isn’t an interesting tidbit of restaurant history, I don’t know what is! And they’re for sale!

Syracuse China Isbell's Restaurant Chicago Ill

Continuing on the Retro Roadmap worthy theme and since we were kind of in the area, I just Had To see what has become of the old Empire Diner.

The Old Empire Diner

I posted about the closing of the venerable diner back in April 2010 (how time flies!) and now it’s reopened as The Highliner, with some changes to it’s menu as well as interior.

Below, for example you will see what I first thought was a meeting of diner workers around the counter, then moments later realized that this was the “communal table” that had been reported about.

Inside the Old Empire Diner

We did not eat there, and now I’m kicking myself for not remembering if the winged Fodero clock is still there or not (Bad Betty!)

While warming up in the spring sunshine our curiosity was piqued by this building  and it’s porthole like windows. I was right in remembering that it had  been originally built in 1966 for the National Maritime Union, so the porthole windows make sense! Now it’s a swanky boutique hotel.

Maratime Hotel Chelsea NYC

We also had a swell drink and bite to eat, but that place deserves a post unto itself!

If you’re as charmed as I am with the history of vintage cool and retro places in New York City, two of my favorite blogs on the subject are Scouting NY and Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York. Unlike me – an out of state suburban daytripper with my snapshot photos and 2 sentence reviews, they are local who go into depth about the ever changing skyscrape of The Big Apple. Enjoy!

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  • As a born and breed New Yorker- awesome shots! I live in Harlem where there are still jazz age store fronts. Love!

    • DeDe – I consider it a high compliment that a born and bred New Yorker digs my photos. I would love nothing better than to spend a week or more walking around the city snapping photos. Funny thought tho – with all the people carrying around cameras the day we were there, I can’t help but wonder, are all the photos taken already?!

      On another note – digging your site! Are you heading to Brimfield in a few weeks? I loved going there growing up, totally fond memories of me and my dad there. HA! I just had to log back on to amend this, because as soon as I hit update I could hear my dad’s voice, “you mean My Dad and I” 🙂

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