The shop at 19 First Ave. between First Street and Second Street celebrates 40 years today (details here). It is the oldest tattoo shop in Manhattan.
In February 2013, we interviewed Fineline owner and founder Mike Bakaty.
I had tattoos from when I was a kid and when I was in the Navy, so I looked around the city and there was nothing here. Tattooing was banned in the city from 1962 to 1997, when we moved into this shop. At the time, the nearest place was up in Yonkers called Big Joe’s. I spent two years going up there, hanging out, watching and gleaning information. I was in the process of getting my old work covered up and I’d be asking questions and everybody would shut up. They didn’t give up the information. And the more they shut up, the more interested I became. Fortunately, there was a guy visiting up there that became a key figure in modern tattooing, named Zeke Owen, who was the first to give me any real information. And by 1976 I started tattooing.
Mike passed away in January 2014. Mike's son Mehai Bakaty had worked with his father for many years ... and is now running Fineline. You can read an interview with Mehai this week at BoweryBoogie and DNAinfo.