Three life-changing words: New York City.
19.09.2023 - 22:37 / cntraveler.com
All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
For decades, couple and photography duo James and Karla Murray have walked, subwayed, and driven through the streets of New York City, with their camera trained on one easily overlooked subject: mom-and-pop shops.
“We wanted the stores to be the heroes,” says Karla. “So we take the photos straight-on, as if you're standing against the wall across the street.” The project, which James described as “initially purely aesthetically driven” started somewhat by accident, but has since become a concerted effort to document the vintage neon signs; old-school hand-painted lettering; and otherwise standout storefronts that have caught their eyes over the years. Together, they serve as a reminder that New York City, devastatingly vast as it can feel, is the sum of so many little parts—lives, stories, efforts to get by—woven together.
The authors of ‘Store Front NYC,’ James and Karla Murray.
Their new book, Store Front NYC: Photographs of the City’s Independent Shops, Past and Present, out September 19, celebrates 200 of these small businesses throughout New York City's five boroughs. With full-page images of local shops, taken in their now-signature bang-on style (which many will recognize from their Instagram account, @jamesandkarla), the book gathers images taken since 2001. There are landmarks most New Yorkers will recognize, like Peter Pan Donuts, with its sugar-filled window display in Greenpoint, and the iconic exposed brick of Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. But there are also places that have since closed or disappeared—from the CBGB music club in the East Village, or Lenox Lounge in Harlem. “When we photographed these, they were all still in business,” says Karla. “We didn't know they would close.”
As a six-years-and-counting Brooklyn resident, and longtime @jamesandkarla follower, I had to hear more from the Murrays about this veritable encyclopedia of shops. I hopped on the phone with James and Karla, who were eager to share how they envision the book guiding travelers “out of Times Square;” which stores are such local secrets they were hesitant to reveal them (there's a spot in Prospect Lefferts Gardens that has "best eggplant parm on a hero"); and what the changing face of New York City's streets says about the city on the whole.
Find the full interview below.
Ralph's Discount City was open from 1963-2007 in Manhattan (2004).
Every New Yorker has their own origin story with the city—where they're from, how they got here, why they came. What are your relationships to New York City?
Karla Murray: I was born in Mount Sinai
Three life-changing words: New York City.
When you're after a beach in New York State, the glitz and glamor of the Hamptons and the old-school appeal of Coney Island – both in the vicinity of New York City – tend to steal the spotlight. But there are plenty more sandy havens to be found across the Empire State.
New York City evokes both high-rise luxury and savvy deals. But the best offer in town? The number of free attractions the Big Apple has to enjoy.
If there's one thing New York City does better than most other US destinations, it's overloading the senses.
After 18 years of living in New York State, I’ve learned quite a bit about the country’s fourth-most populous state. From where to go and what to do, to what to eat and how to get around, here are some tips from a local on how to make the most of your visit to the Empire State.
Yes, NYC can easily monopolize all of your vacation time but don't sleep on the incredible landscapes that await you in New York State – we've got all the info you need on how to get there and around.
The best way to visit New York City and Boston is through a unique experience designed for luxury travelers. The Mandarin Oriental is offering a 75-minute seaplane shuttle for two as part of a four-night package split between its properties in the two cities. It’s the ideal vacation for anyone who can afford one of the best view suites in each city, is eager to bypass the hassle of entering and exiting a major airport, and is up for the adventure of taking off and landing in the water while enjoying magnificent airplane views in between.
From the shores of Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands on the Canadian border, down through the Finger Lakes and the Catskills, and out to the tip of Long Island, New York State has something to suit every kind of traveler.
Pride parties in the summer, Broadway shows in the fall, holiday magic in the winter, cherry blossoms galore in the spring…there’s never a bad time to visit New York City.
Few places are as synonymous with Jewish food as New York City. Manhattan's Lower East Side neighbourhood served as a culinary cauldron when it was home to the largest Jewish community in the world in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, blending centuries of diasporic gastronomic knowledge.
Manhattan’s Lower East Side has always been known for its gritty edge. This is the place where immigrants, arriving from Ellis Island and typically holed up in a tenement apartment, had their first view of New York, and indeed of their version of the ‘Great American Dream’. As a consequence, there is still a strong presence felt of a wide variety of different communities and cultures – from Jewish to Italian. In fact, at the crossroads with China Town, Little Italy and SoHo, you still feel as if you are in the heart of the city’s infamous melting pot which makes this city so diverse and exhilarating.
The last airline to receive the iconic Boeing 747-8i passenger jet was Korean Air.