Monday, September 17, 2007

Ghost Signs & Essex St. Market

Ghost Signs are those old painted advertisements that you see here and there, high up on brick walls across the city. As new buildings rise to fill the available air space, these vestiges of the former city are disappearing behind walls of glass and steel, if the bricks aren't demolished outright.

We lost Seely Shoulder Shapes when the block between 40th and 41st on 8th came down for the Times tower. Griffon Shears has been partially obscured by a condo in Chelsea. The other day I passed this Baby Ruth ghost sign (circa 1930) over a construction site on Delancey. We can predict that by year's end this sign from the past will be concealed from view.

I also "discovered" a couple of vintage signs, right in the Essex Street Market. Schapiro's has been on the LES since 1899 and this little stall is their last remaining toehold in the neighborhood. Their jingle (in Yiddish) proclaims a wine so thick you can cut it with a knife. Ruhalter's has been in the area since the 1920s and great-grandson Jeffrey still cuts the meat.

Finally, a visit to the market's abandoned other half for the eerie funhouse-style installation by artist Mike Nelson revealed an old neon sign high up by the ceiling. This installation was a treat to walk through and it's a good opportunity to visit city-owned Building D before it may be turned into someone else's vision of prosperity.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jeremiah! Great site. Thanks for the hyperlinks. Will add you to my blogroll and would love to see my sites on your links as well. Here is a link to the shot of Baby Ruth Candy I took in 1997, which was exhibited at the N-Y Historical Society the summer of 98 ( I call this website the Fading Ad Campaign. I also started a wiki at

Would love your collaboration (and content) on the question of nostalgia. I open the wiki with a statement by Gloria Steinem. Is "nostalgia...a form of obstructionism...?"

Keep on blogging and join my wiki!

Frank Jump

Anonymous said...

love your posts (misery loves company).

for more info on nyc ghost signs, this is a great resource (that you may know already):

Sam Roberts said...

That Baby Ruth sign is great. In USA your signs are so much bigger than over here in the UK. If you're interested in seeing some from UK and London visit my site at

I also put most of my photos onto Flickr: