After workers took down the facade at children’s store Wyatt Lily on Columbus between 73rd and 74th, another old sign peeked out. The Last Wound-Up was a children’s store that sold all sorts of fun knick-knacks in the 1980s. Sarah Andress told us it was one of her favorite spots when she was a kid.

“The Last Wound up was my favorite store when I was about 7 and my family moved to West 75th. It was a truly wonderful store literally crammed full of hundreds of cardboard boxes of wind-up knick knacks. I still have a miniature pull-back car I bought with my allowance, probably in 1984. It still works! I think that right next to this – sort of ironic – was Think Big, full of comically giant versions of things like Bayer aspirin.”

Interestingly, a commenter on another post we did about this store said that the Last Wound-Up was considered a sign of gentrification when it first got to the neighborhood: “Nostalgia is always personal and relative. I remember a friend who was a lifelong UWS resident lamenting to me that this trendy mechanical toy store had just opened up, displacing his long-time laundry. He saw the Last Wound-Up as a dire sign of encroaching gentrification.”

Thanks to Terry and David for sending in photos.

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NEWS | 15 comments | permalink
    1. geoff says:

      i moved into the neighbourhood in 1978. the very first sign of gentrification was the replacement of the upholstery store on the corner of 73 and columbus by ‘Design Observations’, a store that sold stuff that was bright, cheap(ish) and utterly useless, but fun. i thought “cool, my neighbourhood is moving ahead.” i still have some christmas tree ornaments i bought there.

      one of the next was the ridiculous ‘Coca-Cola’ store that sold clothing marked with the Coca-Cola logo. they even had a 24 hour vending machine to dispense clothing. that renovation, which included the basement, cost a million dollars, a laughably huge amount at the time.

      it got worse quickly. but one of the wonderful side effects of the gentrification was the proliferation of buskers including stand-up comics who haunted the same corner. some were brilliant and may have become famous. anybody remember that, or know whether some DID ‘make it’ to the big time?

      the Last Woundup came much later, and drew huge crowds to the scene.

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        Your capitalization and lack of capitalization is just killing me!

        • Cato says:

          Umm, “Your capitalization and lack of capitalization ARE just killing me!”

          How’s that glass house doing for you??

      • Nelson says:

        I worked at that Coca-Cola store! I wasn’t cool enough to get a job at Charivari. ha ha!! As Simone Signoret said, “Nostalgia is not what it used to be.”

      • Independent says:

        I remember finding the the Coca-Cola store really cool when I was around 13. Their sweatshirts, at least must have been pretty well-made, as mine stood-up to years of wear-and-tear, including summer camp laundry.

    2. Ben says:

      My memory is that “The Last Wound Up” had a slogan, which was “Don’t Postpone Joy.”

    3. Fay Barrows says:

      I bought many of my wind-up toys there.
      Now I buy them on line.

    4. Ricky says:

      I remember The Last Wound-Up well. It was not a children’s store, though it did sell some wind-up toys, some new & very cheap, some old & collectible (like my favorite, a realistic wind-up cat that would skulk along & periodically jump up to swat at a butterfly that was eternally flying ahead of it). But it basically sold anything that was based on wind-up mechanisms, principally early 20th-century Victrolas & wax-cylinder player/recorders. I remember that slogan quoted in an earlier comment, posted in the front of the store. It was a marvelous place, & any snottiness based in a fear that “gentrification” might make the neighborhood safe (it didn’t get expensive till awhile later) would’ve been an unfortunate reaction by people who couldn’t appreciate the interesting & truly unique little stores & restaurants cropping up in peaceful coexistence with the old tailors, fruit stands, shoemakers, hardware stores, et al. Fortunately, I never actually ran into people who felt that way. It was a really special time in the ‘hood to me.

    5. JR says:

      Further north on Bwy @ 105th where Henry’s restaurant is now, there was a “Last Wound-Up” branch in the mid-1980s, conveniently next to a (short-lived) second-hand kids’ and maternity clothes shop!

    6. Peter says:

      I think I still have somewhere the wind-up sushi I bought there.

    7. Harriet says:

      The Last Wound Up was one of the first places in our gentrifying neighborhood that we let our kids go by themselves. This was 1986-89, when you taught your kids how to “take shelter” in a doorman building if they feared they were about to be mugged on the way home from school. My daughter reminded me that she used her allowance to buy freeze-dried “Astronaut Ice Cream” at The Last Woundup, a very exciting product in aluminum pouches. What a great memory.

    8. M79er says:

      I was born on this block, my building is in the left of the panoramic picture you posted in 2011. I had shared this then with my folks who had stories about each of the places, none of which I remember because we only lived there until I was 3. But they certainly remembered this place and had anecdotes about some of the other shopkeepers in the area. I’m certainly glad to see this sign persist and have forwarded it along once again.

      This quaint article from the chicago tribune gives an idea of how the UWS was viewed right as my folks were plotting their escape.

    9. Dan Hammer says:

      His name was Nathan, and he was a real character. In the late ’80’s, he was a crusty late 50/early 60 year old. His motto… Don’t postpone joy. He would go overseas and buy windups at half the price I was selling them (I sold him toys), but would still sell at regular retail. He said it was a license to print money.

      Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

      Remember Johnny Jupiter?

    10. Independent says:

      My parents knew the owner of the Last Wound-Up. Thanks for this nostalgia.