Appearing on the facade of Randall House, an apartment building at 63 East Ninth Street, is this very noir-ish and mysterious sign.
It’s for the William J. Burns Detective Agency. Who was William J. Burns? Known as “America’s Sherlock Holmes,” Burns started out as a Secret Service Agent and then became head of the FBI in the 1920s before founding his own detective agency.
“His exploits made national news, the gossip columns of New York newspapers, and the pages of detective magazines, in which he published ‘true’ crime stories based on his exploits,” states the FBI website.
It’s still a mystery why this sign is on Randall House—an otherwise ordinary residential building in Greenwich Village. As far as I know, it’s the only sign of its kind in New York City.