Posts Tagged ‘Progress tenement’

Mystery messages on tenement buildings

September 10, 2010

New York City’s ubiquitous six-story walkups often¬†have what I think of as mystery monikers: a name, initials, or word carved into the facade.¬†

But what’s the story behind them? Like these four letters above, strangely placed at the upper right of a Hell’s Kitchen tenement.

ELSW, shorthand for the name of the builder? Or a term whose meaning has been lost to the ages?

“Progress” proclaims the entrance to this walkup in Astoria. Compared to the kind of housing people lived in before this type of dumbbell tenement hit the scene, it definitely qualifies.

Women’s first names are all over city residences, like this one on St. Mark’s Place. Who was Juliette, the builder’s daughter? Or a lost love?