Browsing the merchandise at New York Central Art Supply can be a little intimidating for the uninitiated, but that’s just because this store, which has been owned by the same family for three generations, is chock full of the most unique paper and art supplies you’ll find almost anywhere. It is worth checking out regardless of your artistic proclivities.
Opened in 1905 as an “odd lot” store by Benjamin Steinberg, New York Central Art Supply has been in its current location on Third Avenue near 11th Street for nearly 100 years. Family legend has it that a stock of art supplies that sold well helped turned the odd lot store into a store specifically for art supplies. By the 1940s, New York Central was selling only art supplies with Benjamin’s son Harold at the helm.
Today, the store is well known for its stock of custom and out-of-production materials. New York Central also sells nearly 6,000 types of paper, some produced by hand and from century-old mills. Steven and Marcia (third generation Steinbergs) run the store, along with New York Central Framing, which is around the corner.
Steven developed many of the store’s current relationships with paper producers and other manufacturers, bringing in specialty and hard to find stock so necessary to a neighborhood that has long been home to artists. Steven even remembers making bicycle deliveries to Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning as a child. More recent customers include Frank Stella, Kiki Smith and Jamie Wyeth. It’s no wonder the store has such clients. Its sales staff of working artists is considered one of the most knowledgeable in the art supply business. That knowledge has been a boon for the many art students that study in the vicinity. So has NY Central’s reasonable prices and a scholarship for local Cooper Union students.
And for those wondering why the store’s name sounds oddly familiar, it is in fact taken from the New York Central railroad, for which Benjamin Steinberg had an affinity.
For 100 years of service to the Village community, New York Central will be recognized with a 2014 Village Award. The Village Awards are presented as part of GVSHP’s Annual Meeting on Monday, June 16th at the New School’s Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street. All are invited to attend, but please make a reservation here.