Monday, March 26, 2007

Stick 'Em Up!

Situated at No.6 Centre Market Place NY, this picture of Frank Lava's Gunsmith store was taken on February 4th 1937.

Amazingly (by today's standards) this gunshop was located directly across the street from Manhattan's central Police headquarters. The shop's first owner, the gunsmith Eli Parker, chose the site in 1850 precisely for its proximity to the Police, his customary clientele. The shop later passed into the hands of the Belgian "Lavatatas" family, whose third-generation descendant Frank Lava ran the business into the 1960s. Lava reported that a growing number of his customers belonged to the "crank trade" - hobbyists who needed professional help with the finer details of gun repair.

Despite the removal of its fourth floor and the remodelling of its facade, no.6 Centre Market Place remains intact and still functions as a gunshop, "Humane Police Equipment, Inc." It no longer bears the gun shop sign, but its neighbour and competitor, John Jovino, Co. (est. 1911), at no.5, adopted the practice with a sign similar to that in this photograph.