Posts Tagged ‘Tenement buildings’

These building corner street signs are fading fast

January 25, 2013

I love spotting these on random New York corners. But I’ve never seen one designed like the sign carved into a brick walkup at Hudson Street and St. Luke’s Place, with house numbers in the mix.


East Harlem has lots of century-old tenements—and lots of corner carvings. Too bad “109th Street” was obliterated from this one at Third Avenue.


A corner sign in Chelsea features stately lettering. It’s at Ninth Avenue and 19th Street and is in bad shape, but still doing its job of letting passersby know where they are—at least in part.


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?

Cross streets carved into tenement corners

September 14, 2009

Before reliable metal street signs were put up on every corner of the city letting you know exactly where you were, it was probably pretty helpful to have the cross street names chiseled into the corner of a tenement or warehouse.

Now, of course, the cross street carvings have outlived their usefulness. They’re worn down by the elements, but it’s always a treat to look up and see one.

Like this sign on Market and Madison Streets, on a rundown tenement:


The carving at Third Avenue is missing its counterpart—it should read 110th Street:


This one at Fifth Street and First Avenue isn’t carved into the corner. The numbers look old, but not that old—perhaps the original corner blocks were replaced and new street numbers put up:


The loveliest street corner sign, of course, is in Tribeca, on Hudson and Beach Streets.

The sunny side of East 110th Street

June 3, 2009

When you see letters carved into the top of a tenement building, they usually spell out the name of the guy who developed or owned it. Or it’ll just give the year the building was completed.

But then there’s Sunny Side, spotted on a tenement the south side of 110th Street around Second Avenue:


I guess the owner wanted to do whatever he could to make his apartments seem more desirable than the tenements across the street?