Undiscarded: Stories of New York, Episode 9 (Newsstand)

If you like Undiscarded, tune into The Brooklyn Public Library’s flagship podcast, Borrowed. Brooklyn has so many stories to tell, and a lot of them start at the library

New York City is teeming with personalities larger than life itself – unapologetically brash, no-nonsense folks who can be intimidating but will always have your back. One of the greatest privileges of hosting this podcast project is not just delving into the city’s rich history but also acquainting myself with the colorful characters who populate it.

One of my favorite aspects of this project is the opportunity to interact with my enthusiastic guests, each passionate and worthy of a podcast feature themselves! But I especially love learning about unforgettable New Yorkers such as Charlie DeLeo (Episode 1 – lightbulb), Bill Butler (Episode 7 – Rollerskate), Asha Wabe (Episode 2 – Mannequin), who have come up in our episodes. But one of my favorites (even though you are not supposed to have one) was the story of Adam Petrella, who ran the beloved Petrella’s Point Newsstand at the border of Little Italy & Chinatown for nearly three decades.

Petrella’s Point, Adam’s newsstand, became an episode obsession for me and my co-planner, Jacob. Now reconfigured and preserved within a museum, it’s a vibrant red manifestation of old New York, bursting with hand-drawn art and declarations. This newsstand, unlike the sterile silver rectangular kiosks that now litter the city, embodies the spirit of a New York gone by.

The newsstand encapsulates themes significant to many New Yorkers – the disappearance of historical institutions, evolving neighborhoods, political changes impacting local life, the city’s vanishing quirkiness, and the passionate preservationists striving to keep these memories alive. The City Reliquary, in essence, serves as a container for these invaluable relics of New York, and Petrella’s Point exemplifies their work perfectly.

Petrella’s Point was more than a newsstand. It was a community hub where locals picked up their daily essentials and experienced Adam’s unique take on the neighborhood. His stand, dotted with humorous and helpful directions, also showcased his own artistic creations – the famous Bruce Lee and Marilyn Monroe drawings and pictorial narratives of the neighborhood’s changes over the years. As noted by Dave Herman on our podcast, Adam’s stand served as a source of inspiration for the City Reliquary.

Just like the Jewish delis we discussed in episode 3, newsstands too have dwindled over time. Once numbering over 1,500 in the 1950s, now only about 300 stand, primarily in Manhattan. The shift from paper to digital news played a part, but politics as always contributed to this decline. In 1997, Mayor Giuliani increased the annual fee charged to news vendors from $538 to $5000, and sometimes even more if the location was more desirable. The Street Furniture Bill of 2003, introduced during Bloomberg’s term, called for the removal of the diverse, sometimes ramshackle newsstands, to be replaced by homogenous silver structures. These changes led to protests by Adam and a handful of newsstand operators, but to little avail. The original Petrella’s Point was even torn down covertly in the night in 2004 by a bank that moved in on his corner, only to be restored after community outcry. The bank agreed to pay for it’s replacement which was wood unlike it’s metal sturdy predecessor. Adam salvaged what he could from the dumpster and fortified the new newsstand with metal planks. Sadly, Adam’s passing in 2006 marked the end of Petrella’s Point as we knew it, saved ultimately by the Reliquary.
Here are some shots of Newsstands over the years in NYC.

The nostalgia for what Petrella’s Point represented still lingers. A Reliquary version of the stand was displayed at the Dumbo Arts Festival thanks to Dave Herman. The in April of 2013 three artists Anne Libby, Elise Mcmahon, and Sophie Stone created an homage to Adam’s beloved stand. The Petrella’s Import pop-up sold indie zines, journals, art and also regular Newstand fare. As the city frequently transforms, lamentations for the loss of its originality and individuality are common. Fortunately, we can still celebrate the memory of these characters and institutions through the City Reliquary.

Additional Reading & References:
About Adam
-Adam Petrella, 85, newsstand owner who had an artist’s soul – The Villager/NY AM
-Remembering Petrella’s Point – EV Grieve

The Newsstands Battle/History
As Bloomberg’s New York Prospered, Inequality Flourished Too – NY Times
Newsstands of Tomorrow Get Mixed Reviews Today – NY Times
News Vendors Face Prospect Of Last Stand – NY Times
How New Yorkers Are Fighting to Save the City’s Struggling Newsstands – Thrillist

Patrellas Imports
BLNK: Petrella’s Imports – Artfcity
Petrella’s Imports Revives the Lost Individuality of NYC Newsstands – Hyperallergic

Patrick O’Hare: New York Landscapes Film Screening Friday, May 17

Shadowed skyline of buildings and trees against a darkening sky at dusk. Two vapor trails cross each other overhead.
Still from Chimera, New York City Landscapes

The City Reliquary Proudly Presents:

Patrick O’Hare: New York Landscapes

Film Screening & Reception: Friday, May 17th, 7 PM

Patrick O’Hare is a photographer and filmmaker who explores the architecture and landscape of the modern world. His films evoke that strange language of merging and omission that allows reality to slip and hints at the invisible. Through the cracks, something startles and vanishes – the shape-shifting riddle of inside and outside.

On May 17, the City Reliquary will screen three of O’Hare’s recent films: Chimera, New York City Landscapes; The Highlands; and The Ecstasy of Ruins. Shot in 2018 in New York City, the Hudson River Valley, and upstate New York respectively, these works explore the natural and manufactured elements of our landscape, blurring the line between permanence and the evanescent to form a more elusive state of being. A discussion with the artist and reception will follow the screening. Chimera, New York City Landscapes will be on continuous view in the City Reliquary’s gallery in the following weeks.

The May 17 screening is free with late night admission to the City Reliquary Museum, a suggested donation of $7.

Patrick O’Hare’s photographs have been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Parsons School of Design, and Rhode Island School of Design. He has screened his films at UnionDocs in Brooklyn, New York and the Unseen Film Festival in Denver, Colorado.


Chimera, New York Landscapes (2018). HD, Silent, 18:00

A city as hybrid of public and private, modern efficiency and timeless elements, projected through light and weather, refracted and collaged.

The Highlands (2018). HD, Silent, 18:41

A series of Hudson Valley landscapes, the film asks what a river and its environs evoke as an ancient conduit to a present state of mind.

The Ecstasy of Ruins (2018). HD, Silent, 19:27

The quiet geography of upstate New York reveals an architecture of melancholy and a twilight civilization writ large.

Greenpoint Gazette boosting Sugar Sweets!

Greenpoint Gazette published a sweet little piece on this year’s Sugar Sweets!

Election Night Circus 2012!!

7pm until…?

$5 admission, 100% of which goes to Red Cross to help with Hurricane Sandy relief.

Brooklyn Brewery Beer available for donation.

This Tuesday, come to the most civic Museum in Brooklyn and cheer, scream, laugh, cry, celebrate or bemoan the state of American politics at our Election Night Circus 2012!!

We’ll have MC Matt Levy describing the states blow-by-blow. We’ll be proud to display our technologically ancient STATES VOTES Board in the Museum; a live MSNBC video stream in our beautiful backyard; Brooklyn Brewery beers available by donation; death-defying acts by the human blockhead Donny Vomit; and the ever-politic DJs Stacheroni and Tinseltown, spinning for the occasion.

Don’t miss the most exciting political event of the season; just be sure to come AFTER you cast your vote!

The City Reliquary’s 10 Year Anniversary!

April 1st, 2012 (no foolin’!)
at the City Reliquary
370 Metropolitan Avenue

We’re so very pleased to report that the City Reliquary is starting its 10th year of existence. We’ve grown so much over the past 10 years; from tiny windowfront displays to a legitimate Museum and events space. AND we’ve been working harder than ever to make this our biggest year yet! On April 1st, we will unveil…

An all new GIFT SHOP featuring local, hand-made products and NYC gifts!

Two new room-sized DIORAMAS and several new civic DISPLAYS!

A meet and greet with the newest member of our civic organization, a MANAGING DIRECTOR!

With all of these incredible developments about to be released, we hope you won’t miss this opportunity to help us celebrate the past and launch our future.

Please stop by the CR on April 1st at 12:00 noon, to experience the grand ribbon cutting ceremony followed by much pomp, circumstances, and refreshments for all.
MORE INFO TO COME! Please email [email protected] with queries and questions.

New York City Above and Below: Works by Plein Air Artist Enrico Miguel Thomas Opening Sat Jan 28th, 7pm

Thanks to Corey Kilgannon of the NY Times for the photo.

New York City Above and Below: Works by Plein Air Artist Enrico Miguel Thomas
Opening Reception Saturday January 28th, 2012
Doors at 7pm.
FREE! Donations gratefully accepted
Delicious Brooklyn Brewery beer available by donation.


The City Reliquary is pleased to present, New York City Above and Below: Works by Plein Air Artist Enrico Miguel Thomas, an exhibition of original works. New York City Above and Below: Works by Plein Air Artist Enrico Miguel Thomas, will feature Thomas’s famed subway drawings on New York City subway maps in both sharpie and watercolor.
Known to New Yorkers as, “The Subway Artist”, Thomas  can be spotted throughout New York City hard at work in his studio – our city subway platforms, cars, and stations. Since 2007, Thomas has used New York city subway maps as his canvas and sharpies as his tools to recreate subway scenes and cityscapes as perspective drawings, thus transforming his maps into magical works of art.
According to Thomas, “my work is about taking the materials at hand and making the most of them. My materials are minimal and inexpensive; sharpies, watercolor, subway maps, and poster boards, and subject me to the challenge of making something beautiful out of seemingly impossible resources.”
While most New Yorkers view the subway simply as a means of transport, and tend to put their head down and Ipod on for the ride, to Thomas the subways represent the vibrance of New York City and his drawings capture the energy and beauty of their role in city life.
Thomas’s work has been locally featured on NY1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxvnjO5x8g8) and Fox 5. (http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/good_day_ny/100126-subway-map-artist-enrico-miguel-thomas) His art has also been reviewed by amNY newspaper and the New York Times.  (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/artist-uses-the-subway-as-subject-and-canvas/) He has also received international acclaim on Mesamashi TV in Japan and Italy’s, La Stampa.

SlideSerious MagicShare! Friday January 6th, 7:30pm

SlideSerious MagicShare!
Friday January 6th, 2012
Doors at 7:30pm, Lecture at 8.
$5 suggested donation at the door,
Thirst-quenching Brooklyn Brewery available for donation.

Hello! Please join us this Friday January 6th for the third installment of Seriesous when virtuous (and virtuoso) magician Noah Levine presents a magical workshop (quite literally) when he turns the Reliquary into a Petri-dish for the development of new close-magic tricks. Doors at 7.30. Show to begin at 8.15.

P.S. If you’re curious to know more about the delights Noah will bring check out his website.

SlideSerious Stocking Share, Friday Dec 9th

Friday December 9th, 2011
Doors at 7:30pm, Lecture at 8.
$5 suggested donation at the door,
Thirst-quenching Brooklyn Brewery available for donation.

StockingShare!– our collaboration with the online journal Blue Stocking Society- on December 9th. They are currently accepting submissions ( in the form of text, audio or image) on the theme of women in the metropolis. That said Blue Stocking is happy to review materials related more broadly to issues of gender and sexuality in the context of city living. On December 9th those accepted will have the opportunity to share their works in an evening salon. We sincerely hope to see you for what promises to be a lively evening of sharing, discussing and Brooklyn Brewery’s finest.

Show-and-Tell Coming Up on December 15!

Open Mic Show-and-Tell, hosted by Paul Lukas, returns to the City Reliquary on December 15th.

Open Mic Show-and-Tell is exactly what it sounds like: Anyone can bring an object of personal significance and talk about it for up to three minutes. No theme, no agenda — interesting stuff and the stories behind them are their own reward.

If you have a particularly odd object to share, that’s fine. But Show-and-Tell isn’t really about the objects — it’s about the stories. Look in your pocket or purse — there’s probably good show-and-tell fodder there, whether you realize it or not.

You can either (a) bring an object and be prepared to talk about it, or (b) just be part of the audience (because you can’t have show-and-tell unless there are people on hand to be shown and told). Either way, it’s a good time.

The City Reliquary
370 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn
L train to Lorimer Avenue Station
Doors and sign-ups at 7p; showing/telling commences at 8p
$5 suggested donation; beer available for sale
[email protected]

Holopaw Rocks The Reliquary

November 19 | 8pm

Hailing from Gainsville Florida, but steeped in the Brooklyn and North-east indie-folk pop strains, Holopaw plays music that has sweetness and grit, longing and potential violence, lulling strings undercut by anxious guitars, lilting “la’s” turning sinister and demanding. Horns, keyboards, guitars, cymbals and harmonic convergences tell fairytales with unsure endings.

Holopaw at City Reliquary on November 19 at 8pm