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Entries in History (127)


Business of the Week: J&R TV Repair

It's next to impossible to walk past J&R TV Repair, on Seventh between Union and President, and not stop and take notice. First of all, you just don't see TV repair shops any more these days, and most importantly, that sign is truly a gem, one of the oldest (and coolest) in the neighborhood. 

The shop's current location is actually its third. Opened in 1952 by Ralph De Cerbo, the first location was on the southwest corner Seventh and Sterling, in a building badly damaged by the plane crash of 1960. Thankfully, De Cerbo had moved the shop to 78 Seventh Ave (at Berkeley Place) just one year beforehand. He settled into the current spot in 1966.

J&R's ill-fated first location
What began as a simple TV and radio repair shop eventually started selling air conditioners, then added major appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines. 

Today, J&R is still going strong, and Ralph is still alive, though his son Ralph Jr. now runs the shop. I've purchased several items here, and the service is exactly what you'd expect from a second-generation institution: personalized, caring, and high-quality. And the best news of all? They own the building, so you shouldn't expect to see the store (or that sign) going anywhere for a while.

One last bit of trivia: J&R stands for Josephina and Ralph, the happy couple.

J&R Television and Air Conditioning, 108 Seventh Ave Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-638-3040.


History Preserved at Ozzie's

When most businesses move into a space they tend to completely gut the room beforehand. Not so at Ozzie's Coffee, on Seventh and Lincoln. Still incredibly well-preserved are original remnants of the storefront's previous life as a pharmacy in the early 20th century. 

Even before entering it becomes obvious that the signage out front is a relic. The trusses and belts advertised were most likely for medical use, to support injured or strained body parts.

The perfume and cosmetics display case is now a bulletin board. 

Yardley of London has been around for over 200 years, and still makes talcum powders as well as soaps. Apparently the English Lavender variety is their best seller. Lentheric still makes perfumes, too. 

Polish-born Helena Rubinstein started selling her cosmetics in the US in 1917, and Max Factor, born in 1877, was one of Old Hollywood's most well-known makeup artists before he gained national distribution in 1927. Both brands still exist today as well. That old deco font is great, isn't it?

Some original woodwork is still extant in the back, as well. The words "PRESCRIPTION DEPARTMENT" can be made out at the top. This lettering is the same as the perfumes and cosmetics case above, which I imagine dates from even earlier than the deco cases, possibly the 1910s or earlier.

Original brass lighting fixtures still hang from the ceiling.

Not sure what purpose this brass railing had, if any. Anyone have any guesses?

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