Thursday, July 31, 2008
Remembering Petrella's Point
For 30 years, Adam Petrella ran the funky newstand with the directions at Bowery and Canal called Petrella's Point. (You might remember his portraits of Bruce Lee and Marilyn Monroe that adorned his stand.)
As the Times reported, on May 16, 1997, "Giuliani signed into law new rules governing sidewalk newsstands, increasing the annual fee charged the city's 330 vendors from $538 to as much as $5,000, depending on the location. The law also provides for 100 more stands to be put out for competitive bids. Current renters will have five years before the city decides whether to continue renting the stands or to seek bids. The law is part of the initiative to replace current street furniture (newsstands and bus shelters) with new streamlined versions that will be built by the company that wins a 20-year city contract. The new items and 30 public toilets will be financed by selling advertising space on them, generating hundreds of millions for whoever gets the contract.
Mr. Petrella wonders when he'll become a victim of design and progress."
The newstand was removed in 2004 to make room for a bank. Petrella died in 2006 at the age of 85. According to his obiturary in The Villager:
"His is the story of a proud New Yorker who persevered and documented three decades of change on the Bowery. He is a true and significant source of inspiration for our own small museum,” said Dave Herman, president of the City Reliquary Museum in Williamsburg, Brooklyn."
Speaking of the City Reliquary Museum, Herman has some of Petrella's old newstand on display, along with the original 2nd Avenue Deli sign construction workers tossed when the restaurant shuttered in 2006. The Museum is holding a summer benefit tonight.