The Lower East Side has changed radically since many of our grandparents and great grandparents came through the immigrant neighborhood. But small markers of its Jewish past remain — if you know where to look. Perhaps one of the best ones is the iconic neon Russ & Daughters Appetizing sign on East Houston.
When the legendary bagel and lox Mecca opens their first café tomorrow on Orchard Street, a new neon sign will mark the spot. The New Yorker stopped by the shop and the studio of Let There Be Neon, the company that made the sign, to find out the back story.
Watching the molding of the neon lights and the slicing of the lox is mesmerizing. “That steady meditative focused work of shaping and blowing the glass immediately reminded me of what happens at Russ & Daughters,” says fourth-generation co-owner Nikki Russ.
A bystander in the clip says: “Just looking at the sign makes me hungry.” Us too.