Art Food & Drink Lifestyle New York

New York's Un-Monuments

By David Coggins

Jul 13, 2022

New York's Un-Monuments

David Coggins applauds some local heroes.

Originally published in Common Thread, Vol. 1 and illustrated by Derek Brahney.

The Payphone in Fanelli

94 Prince Street

Fanelli, the timeless SoHo bar, is still standing among the tourists and gentrification, like an aged prizefighter (old boxing posters, in fact, adorn its walls). One curious detail is the presence of a payphone, tucked next to the door to the men’s room. Something even more curious: sometimes it rings.

The Ping Pong Tables in Bryant Park

Near the Corner of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue

Behind the majestic New York Public Library is a park, and in that park are cafés, restaurants, fountains and a lot of people. There are also, near 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue, two ping pong tables. Try your luck with some locals, you won’t believe how much pleasure they’ll take in beating you.

The Greek Deli Coffee Cup

Dwindling Locations

A design favourite for anonymous bodega coffee that tastes better with milk and sugar. Once a staple around the city, the pale blue paper cups are now harder to come by. When you do find one it seems to make the coffee taste better somehow.

Jockey Statues, The “21” Club

21 W. 52nd Street

Yes, they relaxed the dress code and now you don’t have to wear a tie at lunch (heresy!). We still love having a very good, very expensive burger here (and a couple of martinis as well, if our afternoon schedule is open). The jockey statues are well-maintained and a surprising target of theft. The Times wrote that about once a year somebody usually tries to steal one, before realizing how heavy they are. One thief made it all the way to the corner, before leaving it sitting on the side of Fifth Avenue.

The Elvis Statue in the window of Great Jones Café

54 Great Jones Street

This small bar on a cobblestone street has always been dear. They have surprisingly good New Orleans-inspired food and a drink called the Shaggy that you can discover yourself (when asked, go with the dark rum). Look for the reassuring orange façade, and when you see the Elvis statue, you’ll know you’re in the right place.

The Sign at the Ear Inn Sign

326 Spring Street

You like The Ear Inn as soon as you walk in. It’s a down-at-heel bar of the old school, where you probably shouldn’t order the fish. But you like the Ear Inn even before that because it has a neon sign where the ‘B’ in BAR reads like the ‘E’ in EAR. It’s got the low-key visual wordplay of a Georges Braque collage. Was it designed that way or did it just happen? We’re happy just speculating.


Derek Brahney is an artist and designer who works with Partners & Spade and Sleepy Jones. He lives in New York.

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