Nobody seems to know the exact origins of the bright, corrugated metal awnings and signs that crown countless bodegas throughout New York City, but for over 30 years, their flashing bulbs have beckoned with promises of ice cold beer and sodas, hot coffee and sandwiches, and fresh meat.
These signs are part of the unmistakable landscape of New York, a burst of tropical warmth that spread from Latin neighborhoods to create a comfort zone on nearly every corner. But one by one, bodegueros - as the store owners call themselves in Spanish -- are tearing down these iconic relics in favor of cheaper, impermanent vinyl awnings. They're supposed to make bodegas look clean, modern and successful, and maybe they do. But soon, the classic metal bodega sign may be nothing more than a Goya-tinged memory.
I hope my photograghs, mounted on plywood, richly colored and boldly contrasted, capture the raw, vibrant energy of New York City, its bodegas, and the folks who keep them open all night.