The faded, falling apart signs for city laundries

I’ve always wondered: why do so many of New York’s laundry places and dry cleaners have store signs that look like they’re about to fall apart or haven’t been freshened up since the Carter years.


This is not a criticism; I love coming across signs that have seen better days and bring us back to a different New York. But while so many other types of businesses update their signage frequently, laundry signs tend to look like forgotten relics.


The French Cleaners on Columbus Avenue is now closed. But the sign feels very space age 1960s. Same with Reliance Cleaners, on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn.


This launderers sign on Christopher Street is a favorite; it’s colorful and neat with a 1970s vibe. Grand Cleaners in East Williamsburg has the same old-school feel.


This second French Cleaners sign in Fort Greene is hard not to love. The faded blue background! That mini Eiffel Tower! I hope it lights up after dark.


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5 Responses to “The faded, falling apart signs for city laundries”

  1. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    Totally charming! I lived in NYC in d1969-1970! Remember these well!

  2. wendy Says:

    Could it be that owning a dry cleaning business is a very good thing? If these businesses could last so long, maybe this not-so-glamorous business is nevertheless very profitable.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      That’s a good point. In my neighborhood, all the cleaners have been around for several years, if not decades, which tells me they’re doing well financially.

  3. Michael Leddy Says:

    French Garment Cleaners! I’d know that sign anywhere. A fictional version of the shop plays an important role in the Ghostwriter story “Over a Barrel” (1990s PBS kids’ show, set in Fort Greene). You can see the shop at the :40 mark in this episode at YouTube.

    Thanks for this post, which will bring back a happy memory for my PBS-raised adult-sized children.

  4. Anthony Lewis Says:

    Does anyone remember Spotless Cleaners and their orange trucks in the 1930′-50’s?

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