Typewriters Clacking in Digital Age

Paul Schweitzer initially meant for the business to be a part-time, after-school venture before transitioning into his first permanent location at Gramercy Park.(Photo by Nicholas Marrero)

Article by Nicholas Marrero, Podcast by Benjamin Long 

Over 85 years, three generations of Schweitzers – Abraham, Paul and Justin – have kept New York City’s typewriters beating out letters, essays and novels. And despite new technologies,  they are still going.

Established in 1932, Gramercy Typewriter Repairs is the oldest typewriter repair shop in New York City, operating out of an office building in Manhattan’s Flatiron district.

Paul Schweitzer, the owner, works with his son, Justin, on the many typewriters that come through their doors. For Paul, repairing typewriters is something of a second nature thanks to the years he spent shadowing his father Abraham in their Brooklyn basement.

“We had a house in Brooklyn and in the basement we had this small workshop,” Schweitzer begins. “As a youngster,  I was downstairs watching my father and helping him make typewriter ribbon. I always knew this is something I would want to do.”

Podcast: Interview with Justin Schweitzer 

The office space itself could easily be mistaken for a museum with stacks of typewriters resplendent in full display. The workshop in the back room is another time capsule of engineering tradition and the Schweitzers have seen little reason to flood their space with laptops and smartphones.

“I’m still keeping the business relatively small,” Schweitzer adds. “I keep my hands active with this business. I don’t really have the time to start learning all the new technology.”

Such commitment to the old-fashioned way of things has led this father-&-son company to believe it unthinkable that they’ll ever be out of business.

“There’s plenty of work to do every day,” says Schweitzer. “We never catch up.”