This must be a flickr day. If you missed the Gothamist post about forgotten storefronts, the gallery is a must see.
It brought to mind the question, what makes these storefronts more interesting than the average big box. It's fun to look too, as there is such a broad collection.
The comparison may be obvious for some, but note that many of the "lost" storefronts in the gallery defy convention of successful retail merchandising - many of their windows are covered with dingy posters that obscure the interiors and they are dark, definitely under-lit. I would like to think that part of the reason these storefronts are still appealing to our senses (other than the beautiful texture and type afforded by the skillful photography) is that they are human-scale. Windows are at an accessible height. The scale of the store opens itself up to the sidewalk, and therefore pedestrians. Note the many people sitting outside the storefronts in this collection, taking in the street view. I have often walked by the Mars Bar, which is visually impenetrable, yet extraordinarily friendly to the street, so friendly that the BBQ held in front of it is not an impediment, but just part of the street activity and a connection to the bar. I have rarely seen people lounging around a big box, have you? And for those who like to over-police public spaces, this is kind of lounging that you do want.
Just some thoughts in light of the recent NYT article about
big boxes retail chains taking over the city.
Posted by Shin-pei at 2:52 PM