New York Daily Photo Analytics

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Honest Boy

I really wanted to get a photo of this place with the full original sign, THE HONEST BOY, before a canopy went up and blocked BOY (unfortunately, this blog was started after that). The sign, which originally wrapped around two sides, has the most unusual block lettering - virtually unreadable. Most people I have pointed it out to don't even realize it is a series of letters. You can still read some of it (TH_ HONES) - click here for a closeup.
Most people look for stability in a world of change and the older they get, the more they dislike change. We want things we can count on - relationships, jobs, product quality, landmarks. A lot of nostalgia is driven by this. In New York City, you have tremendous dynamics at hand - rapid change along with the classic, iconic and durable. Many will fight to preserve and save any vestiges of the past; others welcome the bulldozers and see renewal as progress. And of course all of this leads to controversy, battles and conflicted feelings.
All those elements are here in this little fruit and vegetable stand at Broadway and Houston Street which has been a fixture for decades. It occupies a triangular wedge of land (of about 1000 square feet) abutting a subway station entrance. It is owned by the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority). In 1980 it was taken over by Louis and Carmen Arenas. In 1992, the MTA had plans to erect an electrical substation but abandoned them due to community protests.
Since 1990 I have been a frequent customer of The Honest Boy. Until recently, they had tremendous buys - bags of good quality fruits and vegetables for $1. The Arenas ran it until 2005 when Louis Arena (due to poor health) transferred it to Pan Gi Lee. Since then the goods have become pricier. No more bags of peppers, tomatoes, lemons, potatoes ...
I have read several articles today and a long thread of comments regarding new plans by the MTA to build a two-story glass, steel, and aluminum building would incorporate one of the entrances to the Broadway and Lafayette subway station. It's interesting that on one website all were in favor of the demolition and considered it a pathetic shack or shanty. They complained of rats, the homeless, the stench of urine and an impossibly crowded corner to shop. Perhaps I have been in New York too long - what was the problem again? :)

Photo Note: A good vantage point with poor conditions. This photo was taken across the intersection from the second floor of Crate and Barrel at an angle through a glass window.


An Honest Man said...

In the circumstances, a good photo.

The debate on what should be retained and what 'modernised' will never be an easy one.

Lucy said...

I will be very sorry to see it go...

Brian said...

I think street vendors (when properly run etc.) provide a good service for city dwellers on the run. Purchases can be made quickly and easily.

Ming the Merciless said...

Brian, your blog is mislabeled as "Ming the Merciless" and my was mislabeled as "Brian & Lucy".

Gerald England of Hyde Daily Photo told me how to edit the profile name so they are labeled correctly.

I will e-mail the instructions on how to edit the names.