The story behind three faded ads in Manhattan

If you look up enough while walking through the city, you see a fair number of these weathered ads, partly erased by rain and grime.


Deciphering what they say isn’t always easy. Take this ad at 23 East 20th Street. “Furs” is still legible, but the name of the company is tricky.

It looks like M. Handin & Grapkin—which is close, as sure enough a company with the name Drapkin appears to have gone into the furrier business as early as 1909.

The wonderful faded sign site says that M. Handin and Drapkin were located in this building around 1909, and the faded ad could be more than a century old.


This building on East 12th Street and University Place is a faded sign spotter’s dream. “Student Clothes” up top is easy enough to read.

Walter Grutchfield’s photo is better than mine, and his caption explains that the company occupied this building from 1924 to 1929.


To get this view of this faded ad at 324 West 84th Street, you have to stand inside the 15th floor apartment of the building next door.

The address is barely legible—and though 324 is an apartment house today, as early as 1918 it was the Hotel Ramsby.

The left side of the ad must have listed room rates, forever lost to the ages.

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6 Responses to “The story behind three faded ads in Manhattan”

  1. Aunt Deb Says:

    Thank you.

  2. Untapped Staff Picks: 13 Jawdropping Aerial Pictures of New York, Will NYC’s Free Wi-Fi Help Police Watch You? | Untapped Cities Says:

    […] The Story Behind Three Faded Ads in Manhattan [Ephemeral NY] […]

  3. LuLu LoLo Says:

    wonderful faded Bloomingdale sign 116 Street and Lex Ave south west corner

  4. georgebeach Says:

    Loved the Hotel Ramsby story of the “charming little cottage surrounded by a garden on the roof” of that hotel. What times, what a life. Loved the magazine, too. Fashions of ages past. Of stars long gone, when performers could be referred to by their one artistic name, “Namara.”

  5. The pretty peacocks holding court in the Garment District | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] United States. These days, the remaining garment-related producers share dingy side streets with ghostly faded ads and signage from long-departed […]

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