Weekend History: Two Signs Emerge From the Past

As much as we try to paper over the past, it’s usually still hiding near the surface. Two signs that were recently spotted in the neighborhood brought back memories from decades ago.

Peter Salwen spotted a 38-year-old campaign flyer on a building on Amsterdam near W. 83rd. “Frank J. Barbaro, a former longshoreman and liberal state assemblyman from Brooklyn, was Ed Koch’s chief challenger for re-election to a second term as mayor of New York,” Salwen — an historian — wrote. “In the Legislature, Mr. Barbaro was a fierce advocate for organized labor, tenants and minorities. He later served for six years as a State Supreme Court justice,” the Times noted. “Outspent by a ratio of nearly 10 to 1, Mr. Barbaro nonetheless ran a spirited campaign, vowing to ‘liberate the legend of Fiorello La Guardia from an impostor.’..Mr. Barbaro lost the primary with 36 percent of the vote. He continued his campaign in the general election through his independent Unity Party, but got only 13 percent to Mr. Koch’s 75 percent.” Barbaro died in 2016.

Bill Hindlin spotted a sign for a famous electronics business that disappeared more than a decade ago. “I took this picture the other day on 97th street just west of Broadway, site of the now closed Walgreens. When they removed the Walgreens signage it exposed the sign of “The Wiz” electronics store which closed years ago and into which Walgreens took over. Ah, memories of ‘Nobody Beats the Wiz!'” The Wiz opened in the 1970s but closed most of its locations in the early 2000s after going bankrupt.

It’s not the first time an old sign has popped up in the neighborhood.

HISTORY | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Bill Williams says:

      Nobody may have beaten the Wiz but Crazy Eddie’s prices were INSANE!

    2. MB/UWSer says:

      This eight year resident always finds it fun to see history before the invasion of franchises.

      Also, hiding in plain site: the unlit neon RISTORANTE sign that hangs over the parking garage on W. 75th between Amsterdam and Broadway – over the now comedy club. Sitting at a booth in Viand brings it in clear view. I wonder of all the who, what, when, where.

      Then, walking south on Columbus Avenue on left side of the street, sometime after W. 72nd there is a pillar shaped stained glass sign up high that says ICE CREAM attached to the building – no ice cream store for a long while.

      • Betsy says:

        Ice cream sign was probably Sedutto’s from the 80s. Had an adjoining door to the great burger place next door.

        • galdebord says:

          I waited tables at that “great burger place” in the mid-80s (along with Sandra Bullock and many lesser-known but wonderful artists, actors, opera singers, etc.) The ice cream store was run by the same people. Everybody came through that restaurant – Diane’s Uptown – at one point or another. Woody and Mia and their (then small) kids, Mary Tyler Moore, SNL cast, Ernie Anastos, Signourey Weaver, whoever was playing at Lincoln Center that night. We were open till 2am and our biggest night was always Thanksgiving Eve when people came up to watch the balloons being blown up.

    3. LL says:

      I saw the first sign a month ago when I was heading to the library. I had to look the up, as I didn’t know who he was.

      And o remember the Wiz. I couldn’t go to that Duane Reade for a long time because it felt werid not seeing TVs all over the place. I loved it there. The Walgreens was a Duane Reade first, right? I wonder what will be in its place.

      I remember there used to be a Gap on 96th and Broadway, and now the 86th st Gap space has been closed for 2 years or so, and the old Banana Republic for at least 5

      What will happen to these large spaces?

      Sorry. Off topic.

      • David Morris says:

        No. The Duane Reade was on Broadway between 97th and 98th where Westside Market is now. That space was a Sloan’s supermarket.

    4. RJ Martinez says:

      I went into the Nobody Beats the Wiz at 97th street, entered their raffle and maybe a month or two goes by. I wake up to a free BMX bike, haha. Then 2 years ago I won Hamilton tickets. I guess I’m a little lucky.

    5. robert says:

      The wiz sign has been out there “in public” since the Wiz store was there. Walgreens simply forgot to remove it. And now its gone as well