Posts Tagged ‘East Harlem faded ads’

The writing on the wall of an East Side tenement

February 11, 2019

Sometimes in New York you come across a building that’s trying to tell you something. Take this red-brick tenement on the corner of Second Avenue and 109th Street.

At some point in the past, ads were painted on the facade—designed to catch the eyes of Second Avenue El riders and pedestrians in a neighborhood that was once a Little Italy, then became Spanish Harlem by the middle of the century.

Now, perhaps nine decades later, enough faded and weathered paint remains to give us a clue as to what the ads were about.

The ad on the right side of the facade might look familiar to faded-ad fans; that familiar script used to be painted all over the city.

Fletcher’s Castoria was a laxative produced by Charles Fletcher all the way back in 1871. The company promoted the product until the 1920s with ads on the sides of buildings, a few of which can still be seen today.

This photo taken by Charles von Urban (part of the digital collection of the Museum of the City of New York) shows a similar ad on East 59th Street in 1932.

The ad—or ads—on the left side of the tenement are harder to figure out. “Lexington Ave” is on the bottom, and it looks like the word “cars” is on top.

A garage? A gas station? For a while I thought the word in the middle might be Bloomingdale’s, a good 60 or so blocks downtown on Lexington. There was—and maybe still is—a very faded Bloomingdale’s ad on a building at 116th Street and Lexington.

Exactly what riders and walkers saw when they passed this corner is still a mystery.

[Third image: MCNY 3.173.367]

Three-story faded ads towering over the city

April 9, 2011

In the 1930s, the Bendix company licensed a line of home washing machines.

Which means this enormous faded ad on an East 109th Street and First Avenue tenement could be about 80 years old.

The tagline “For Cleaner Clothes, Bendix Prescribes All” still survived on 23rd Street and in this location through the 2000s.

Cardinal Realty has moved over to Fulton Street since this enornous black and white ad went up in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

It’s in pretty good condition, but it could be more than 40 years old—the old two-letter phone exchanges were still officially in use through the 1960s.

NE for Nevins Street, on the other side of Prospect Park. Thanks to Ephemeral reader Sheena for sending in this photo.

Here’s an invaluable resource for decoding old New York City phone exchanges.