Metropolitan Wines / Longo Bros.
Metropolitan Wines / Longo Bros., 474 9th Ave. between 36th and 37th Sts. (2003)

In December, 1933, the New York Times published this notice regarding a license issued to the Metropolitan Wine and Liquor Shop.

This preceded 8 Dec. 1933, pg. 10, with "Christopher Lonzo, proprietor of the Metropolitan Wine and Liquor Company, 474 Ninth Avenue, which received its license yesterday morning, was for years associated with the pasteurizing department of the Sheffield Farms Company. He has decided that there is more money to be made in liquor than in milk, and is preparing to start sales as soon as his permit and stock arrive." (Christopher Lonzo was actually Christopher Longo.)

This ad for the Metropolitan Wine and Liquor Shop appeared in the New York Times, 16 March 1934.

The New York Times, 5 August 1938, reported another early mention of Metropolitan Wines: "Albert Howard, 24 years old, an admitted criminal from boyhood, had confessed that in a period of one month this Summer he held up twenty-five retail liquor stores for a total of $2,300, pretending each time he held a pistol in his pocket ... pleaded guilty to the theft of $95 last July 12 in the holdup of the Metropolitan Wine and Liquor Company at 474 Ninth Avenue."

The front of 474 9th Ave. carries the letters Longo Bros. / 1933. 1933 was the year Metropolitan Wines moved to this address. Their earliest listing in the Manhattan telephone directory was in 1934. The building itself seems to be a 19th century construction. (In 1895 Bridget A. Darcy paid $200 for alterations to a five-story brick store and tenement at 474 Ninth Avenue. In 1904 a realtor sold the five-story brownstone flat, 474 Ninth Avenue, for the Darcy estate.)

The Longo brothers were Christopher (aka Cristoforo) Longo (1900-1981), Jack Anthony (aka Giacomo) Longo (1905-1971) and Joseph (aka Giuseppe) Longo. Christopher Longo appears in the 1934 Manhattan telephone directory in business at 474 9th Ave. He also appears in the 1940 U. S. Census living at 474 9th Ave. He was recorded as 40 years old, born Italy. He was listed on the ship's manifest of the SS Conte Biancamano sailing to New York from Genoa 18 Oct. 1951. Christopher Longo, age 51, born Italy, was accompanied by Josephine Longo, 38, born New York. Christopher and Jack Longo lived at 416 and 418 W. 36th St. in the mid-1940s. Giacomo Longo, age 17, a waiter, sailed on the SS Majestic from Southampton, England, to New York in Sept. 1923. Jack Longo, age 33, living at 474 9th Ave. NYC, filed a petition for naturalization 17 June 1939. And he seems to be the same Jack Anthony Longo who served in the U. S. Army in World War II and who is buried in Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY. Polk's 1940 Copartnership Directory for New York City listed Christopher Longo, president, and Jack Longo, secretary-treasurer, at Metropolitan Wine & Liquor Co., 474 9th Ave.

On Joseph Longo, I have no information. His only mention comes in this story from the New York Herald Tribune, 26 April 1948, pg. 13, "Budget Wine - If the up-up price of wine has discouraged its use at your table, except on occasion, our budget discovery should be heartening news. The Longo brothers, Jack, Joe and Chris, have a store at 474 Ninth Avenue, selling a line of dry reds for as little as 54 cents a fifth or $1.96 for a gallon. Their list on these budget brews includes claret, Chianti, Burgundy, Zinfandel and Barberone. Sweet reds are 34 cents a pint, $2.45 for a gallon, that price covering port, sherry, muscatel, white port and a port and sherry, half and half. Quarts and half gallons, too. White wine is $1.96 a gallon, the fifth 55 cents. ... The Longo brothers opened their business in 1933, as they like to recall, just three days after Macy's made its liquor debut. All types of wines and all the way up the price scale are on the shop shelves. This inexpensive California line is bottled under the Longo name and the firm controls the price, their way of explaining the cut-rate value."

The New York telephone directory listed Metropolitan Wine & Liquor Co. at 474 9th Ave. for 64 years (1934 to 1998). There were also entries for Longo Bros. Liquors from 1953 to 1979. Several stories in the New York Times in the 1950s indicate that Metropolitan Wines was considered a source for hard-to-find Italian wines around that time. This ad appeared in the New York Herald Tribune, 21 December 1956.

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