Apthorp Cleaners New York

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Apthorp Cleaners – Barbies, Barbies, Barbies

On the east side of Amsterdam Avenue just south of 79th Street, on which lives The Dublin House (and beside it an original Banksy) lives Apthorp Cleaners.

It is named after the turn of the last century Apthorp Building, a full city-block-sized residence with a long list of famous present and former residents and a courtyard bigger than the building in which I live. In that building, every apartment is different (here is a link to the floor plans of most of the apartments in the building).

But that’s all one block away from Apthorp Cleaners which is distinguished from the dozens of other neighborhood cleaners and tailors by its permanent but ever-changing window display.

For many, many years scenes featuring only Barbie Dolls have been creatively staged for the delight of neighborhood adults and children. A crowd never gathers, tourist busses never stop and few selfies are taken despite the solid day and night performance given by the dolls.

Themes revolve around various religious holidays, the seasons, politics (like elections), gay pride and so forth but it is the creative mind behind all this that appeals to me, as opposed to the dolls themselves.

I intentionally keep that person (Debra Kravitt) and that mind an unknown entity, though I know she is the woman who sits behind the sewing machine, who acts alone in all of this. She is the Gower Champion and the Santo Loquasto of the ‘what-to-do-with-my-Barbies-now-that-I’m-an-adult’ movement.

More power to her.

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Details about this spot



383 Amsterdam Avenue, New York

Telephone number


Opening Times

24 hours daily




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Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)