Claudia (The Paris Apartment) just told me about this amazing coffee table book called, "The Disappearing Face of New York." It's about New York's traditional mom-and-pop store fronts being replaced with chain stores or closing. It breaks my heart to see this happening in cities all over the world.
This fabulous book is compiled by photographers, James and Karla Murray, and beautifully captures the neon and hand-painted signs, old doors, peeling paint, aging steel, and the items hanging in the front windows of these shops and restaurants.
Chain stores are posing a serious threat to these humble institutions and are replacing the unique appearance and character of the beautiful streets. I'm sure you see it in your cities as I see it here in San Francisco. It breaks my heart to see a beautiful Art Deco theatre turned into a gym, or a snazzy old cocktail lounge turned into a Starbucks.
The text accompanying each image in the book mentions the year the store opened and often includes detailed remembrances of the stores' histories obtained through interviews with managers or owners.
Almost all of these businesses are a reflection of New York's early immigrant population, a wild mix of Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Poles, Eastern Europeans and later Hispanics and Chinese.
We can get involved in preserving our ever-changing neighborhoods. The National Trust for Historic Preservation provides leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to save America's diverse historic places and revitalize our communities. Or contact your local city. In San Francisco we have the San Francisco Preservation Society.
I'd love to hear about your neighborhoods. What changes have you seen?