Three ghostly faded ads in Downtown Brooklyn

GhostsignschandleradToday, Downtown Brooklyn is a bustling shopping destination.

But Fulton Street and surrounding thoroughfares are nothing like what they were in their late 19th and early 20th century heyday, when the neighborhood was packed with shops and department stores catering to middle- and upper-class tastes.


Luckily we have ghost signs on the sides of old buildings to remind us of businesses that no longer exist.

Case in point: the Chandler Piano Company, founded on Montague Street in 1869 and headquartered at 222 Livingston Street since 1907.


This remarkably preserved ad emerged last year when the building it hid behind met the wrecking ball. At the roof, you can just make out the words “Chandler-Ebel Music Co.,” the name of one of founder Frank Chandler’s music businesses.

GhostadpomeroyadTrusses, stockings . . . and artificial legs? Pomeroy Surgical Appliances made a business selling these and other scary-sounding devices at 208 Livingston Street and 584 Fulton Street.

The ad on Livingston has that wonderful old-fashioned hand sign, pointing customers right to the convenient elevator.

This J. Michaels faded ad, dwarfed by a residential tower near Smith Street, doesn’t look like much.


But the company has a long Kings County history: it sold furniture on Smith Street (apparently once a big furniture showroom hub) from 1886 until 1996.

I’m not so sure everyone who shopped at the store agreed that they were “great” as the ad claims. In 1972, the Department of Consumer Affairs sued the company for selling “defective and shoddy” furniture to low-income customers.

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6 Responses to “Three ghostly faded ads in Downtown Brooklyn”

  1. Susie Says:

    Love old signs like these! It’s fun to know what some of them are actually for, too. Nice photos!

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks! Coming across them on random city walks is always a treat.

  3. Tom Hakala Says:

    Wonderful! I love looking for ghost signs all over the City. When they were demolishing the buildings (including a number of theaters) to clear the Times Square site of the Marriott Marquis, a number ghost signs for the automobile dealerships and the horse carriage makers that populated the area in the early 20th (and, with respect to the carriages perhaps the late 19th) century were revealed. I walked through the area on my way to work ever day. But that was in the 1980s before cameras were embedded in phones and I never had a camera with me. I hope that somebody had the presence of mind to capture those signs before they were destroyed or covered up by new construction. The moral of the story is to always be on the lookout around constructions sites for emerging – usually only temporarily – ghost signs. There’s a lot of demolition of old, repurposed brownstones and 1920s commercial buildings going on in Manhattan’s old garment district. This should be a fertile area for -re-emerging ghost signs.

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Yes, it’s the upside of lots of new construction and development–the reappearance of wonderful old signs!

  5. The haunting beauty of a brick Bronx factory | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] with the sounds of workers and machinery — producing everything from ketchup to wallpaper to pianos to […]

  6. An old piano ad on 37th Street fading out of view | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] A Mathushek factory occupied the corner of Broadway and 47th Street at the turn of the century, smack in the middle of today’s Times Square. Ads for pianos can still be found in the city’s corners—like this one in downtown Brooklyn. […]

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