One of the crown jewels of Manhattan, the grand dame of New York City, is turning 100. We are talking, of course, about Grand Central Terminal. A century ago, on February 2, 1913 – after a decade of construction – the building that would revolutionize commuter train travel opened its doors.

There isn’t anything to say that hasn’t been said before about the building’s grandiose and tumultuous history. So, we offer something else to commemorate one of the most amazing buildings in the city: a 360 look at Grand Central. Part of a larger project photographing iconic landmarks in glorious 360 degrees, we teamed up with Shots 360 and photographer Thomas Erh, the man behind the lens of interactive 360º panoramic photography, to document some of our favorite Old New York places.


Enjoy!

10.22.2011

Something Special | South Village

What can you expect from the best mailbox, other that Something Special? 

Leonard Cecere is 87, a Notary Public and also the proprietor of Something Special. He is one of those people who may seem distant at first, but once the ice is broken the floodgates to his stories and personal anecdotes open wide. 

Mr. Cecere says that when he opened the store there was not much commerce in the area. Nowadays he has the luxury to stay in business because he owns the building. Many other stores in the neighborhood are not so lucky, several having closed due to exorbitant rent increases. 

The shop has a bit of that small town general store feel, with plants in the windows and decidedly retro green gingham and daisy wallpaper. 





The glass display cases date back to when the shop was home to a bakery. Now, instead of bread, they hold a hodgepodge of jewelry, mugs, vases, clocks and crayons. 

A juxtaposition of technology through the decades.



Mr. Cecere’s memory is impeccable. As we were talking, a hooded man at the back of the store catches his eye. Walking up to him, he realizes it is a former customer who cancelled his mailbox a year ago. Even though he has not received any mail since then, he still holds the key, something that doesn’t seem to bother Mr. Cecere as much as the lack of payment. While other mailbox services charge $30, Something Special’s prices are less than half that amount. 



During my visit last week, a customer pointed to a photo behind the counter and asked if I could recognize one of the store’s most famous patrons. It was none else than Patti Smith. 




Before opening the store in the 1960s, Mr Cecere worked at Kodak for 23 years. There, he invented a machine that controlled the water temperature during the film developing process. Looking back, he says the company would be much better off he had been in charge. After all, according to him, management at the time didn’t think an employee’s invention would go far. That invention? The digital camera. 

Want to know more? Stop on by Something Special and ask Mr. Cecere.