WE’RE CLOSING IN on the darkest days of the year. Maybe that’s why I’ve been taking pictures of neon signs the past two evenings while walking around Manhattan. There’s something so cheering about them on a cold winter’s night. And the other reason is, because I can. So easily. I have an iPhone in my pocket.
Last night I was on the Lower East Side. You may recognize a few of the famous images, below. Some of the shots could be better; it took me a while to figure out not to let the camera try to auto-focus on a neon sign (God, I hate when bloggers apologize for their photos!)
Today I walked from 25th and Fifth (Eataly: crowded, Marimekko: overpriced) to the Meatpacking District, keeping an eye out for neon. I don’t spend as much time in Manhattan as I once did. When I do, I find myself looking for indications — like the old shoe repair and locksmith signs — that the whole of Manhattan hasn’t succumbed to slick commercialism, but that some unredeemed pockets of funk remain.
But surprisingly, I found myself appreciating some of the more recent neons — beer signs, even. They don’t have the same nostalgia value, but at least they confirm that the whole world hasn’t gone over to LED lights.