Ghostly reminders on red brick buildings

Faded ads that are preserved in full are treasures. But most of the old signage found around the city consists of just one or two legible words—maybe a name or a type of service.

Whose business was it? What did they sell or manufacture? Without more words as clues, we may never know.

On the side of a prewar building now known as the Amsterdam Court Hotel at 50th Street and Broadway is this faded ad for apartments. How many rooms? How much per month? I wish we knew.

This faded sign, as seen from Sixth Avenue in the 20s, appears to read “R. S. Stern.” If this is correct, I wonder what Mr. Stern’s company sold.

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6 Responses to “Ghostly reminders on red brick buildings”

  1. Lady G. Says:

    I did a little search for R.S stern, and came up with this= http://www.rsstern.com/history.php

    This company was based in Maryland since 1870, but maybe Business expanded or they were just advertising all the neighboring states with shipping businesses across the Atlantic?

    “By 1910, with Stern’s three sons now helping to run the family business, RS Stern Inc was supplying meats, vegetables and other fresh provisions to the galleys of ships on the Atlantic trade routes and beyond.”

  2. wordgrl Says:

    Sterns used to have a store on 42nd street across the street from the main branch of the library. I believe it’s now the City University Graduate Center.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks Lady G. I tried to follow up on this trail and came across an article from the New York Times in 1912 on the new fall ladies hats in stock at the R.S. Stern Company at 632 Broadway.

    http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=FB0F1EFD3A5E13738DDDAF0A94DF405B828DF1D3

    Based on the address and where the ad is, it sounds like the right R.S. Stern. I don’t think they are related to the Stern’s Department Store that once held court on 23rd Street though.

  4. Aonghais Says:

    The Amsterdam Court was a SRO until the late 90s when it was renovated to be more upscale. Many of the Senegalese street vendors lived there, and was their base of operations. There was a West African restaurant on the ground floor. Not sure whatever happened to all the African street vendors, I don’t see many anymore. The bank of phone booths that used to be at the corner of 50th & 8th was the center of the stolen phone credit card scam, you could call Africa or elsewhere for a couple of bucks. They got the credit card numbers by sitting in places like Grand Central and watching the phone booths with binoculars and stealing the numbers of unsuspecting tourists and commuters.

    • wildnewyork Says:

      Watching with binoculars? Thanks for the info. I guess the scam doesn’t work now that everyone has a mobile.

  5. wordgrl Says:

    Sterns was originally located at two places on 23rd street before re-locating on 42nd st. so perhaps this is from one of their original locations. Many of the big department stores were located in “Chelsea” before going further uptown. I think they called that area in Chelsea “Ladies’ Mile”
    http://www.lookze.com/building.php?Address=32-36-West-23rd-Street

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