This week, Grieve alerted us to the removal of the Chow Mein neon sign from above the old Jade Mountain Chinese restaurant on 2nd Ave., thanks to some work being done on the building. I got nervous for the Jade Mountain neon sign that has been lying face-up atop the roof of Shoolbred's since the restaurant closed in 2007.
a few weeks ago
Recently, the inner text of the sign popped up, like a body suddenly sitting upright in its coffin. Walking by, you could see the last letter N in "mountain" peeking out with its distinctive chinoiserie shape. Perhaps it knew what was about to happen to it.
Now, that N has been crumpled like an aluminum can, smashed under the boots and equipment of the construction workers. I hate to think about what the rest of the sign looks like.
I got in touch with Thomas Rinaldi, author of the blog New York Neon and a forthcoming book by the same name. His response: "What a heartbreak!"
He wrote, "I think many people would agree with me that the Jade Mountain sign was a thing of real cultural value and significance. It was particularly noteworthy as one of New York's very last early- to mid-century signs that used a stylized iteration of East Asian calligraphy adapted to Roman characters. I know of only two others that survive at this point in the city, both of them abandoned. It's another one of New York's most important historic neon signs needlessly destroyed."
Can anybody get over there and rescue this sign?
*UPDATE: The sign has been taken away...
in better days
Further neon reading: