Posts Tagged ‘old ads NYC’

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]

Holiday deals at a defunct city department store

December 19, 2012

Finlay Straus describes itself as a jeweler/optician in this Depression-era New York Daily News ad from December 19, 1934.

Finlaystraussad2

But based on the merchandise they’re pushing as part of a Christmas sale (and their locations, like Fordham Road and Fulton Street), the store is more like a Macy’s or a Target—selling the “practical” gifts that make good presents for people you don’t know very well or are easy to please.

Finlaystraussad

Seventy-eight years to the day after this ad ran, some of these gifts still pass as okay, such as appliances like mixers and juicers as well as tableware.

Of course, the typewriter, radio, and cigarette case/lighter have been relegated to the dustbin of Christmas presents past.