Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ghost Sign Gone

You may recall, back in 2008 or 2009, a building on 8th Avenue between 46th and 47th came down and revealed a fantastic ghost sign.

Rooms with steam heat, housekeeping, hot and cold water. Superimposed over a cigar box. A beauty.

Then another building came down, and a new building went up, the Hotel RIU Plaza. The tower was set back far enough that it did not cover the ghost sign.

Still, how long could it last? Would the powers that be really let the sacred tourists look out from their gleaming windows of the RIU Plaza at a gorgeously scuzzy antique like this?


On a recent visit to Times Square, I found the ghost sign has been wiped out. Buffed. Whitewashed. Destroyed beneath a thick coat of gray paint.


In this city, nothing old is allowed to stay.


Mitch Golden said...

What about the possibility that the owners of the building needed to seal it against the elements? Anyone here know if that could be a reason?

Bill said...

They could have used a clear colorless sealer.

Mark Kozakiewicz said...

Painting a brick wall "against the elements" usually creates more problems than solving any. But there are plenty of armchair experts out there.

James said...

These ghost signs having been appearing and vanishing again for decades. I remember seeing the "All Cars Transfer to Bloomingdale's" sign in Harlem, even in the 90's. I remember a carriage maker sign temporarily coming to light in Times Square, around 1993. Nobody preserves these things, or very few do.
Here's one from 2002, at Broadway and 64th, where there is now a very large commercial and residental building. http://www.image-share.com/ijpg-3188-1.html
Some of these signs just sit there bleaching in the sun, glazed in frozen water in Winter. I don't know how they manage to last - longer than some tattoos.

Scout said...

Mark Kozakiewicz said "Painting a brick wall "against the elements" usually creates more problems than solving any. But there are plenty of armchair experts out there."

There are even more armchair whiners out there, I think. The polite response to Mitch Golden's question (if one must be made)? "Yes, that could be a reason."

Barry Popik said...

Congratulations on winning the Apple Awards! Keep in mind that if you're a guy like me who actually solved the Big Apple, you don't even get nominated! You have to explain to them who you are!...It's been 10 years since Harlem's "Big Apple" was thoughtlessly removed. I told the Guides Association of New York City that they could help to get it back, but no one cares...Twenty-five years ago, I rediscovered model Audrey Munson. The story appeared in Saturday's NY Post, without any credit to me. The model who symbolized NYC died 20 years ago, forgotten by all but me, in an insane asylum. I asked NYC institutions and politicians to help me, but no one would. And so it always goes...

Thee Erin said...

I think the main point is the intentional painting-over of this sign, rather than how long ghost signs last when exposed to the elements.

Downtowner said...

That looks like more than paint. Looks like a paneling was put over the brick, probably to prevent it from crumbling, or to seal it. If brick isn't repointed over time, it can develop horrendous leaks - and judging by the condition of the wall prior, it seems very likely.