Posts Tagged ‘Vintage signs’

Look hard to see this vintage Hershey’s sign on the Bowery

April 25, 2021

You might need a pair of readers to really see the Hershey’s brand name in this weathered sign hanging from the facade of 354 Bowery, between East Third and Fourth Streets.

But there it is embossed on both sides, advertising Hershey’s Ice Cream—which despite the similar lettering apparently has nothing to do with Hershey’s Chocolate.

How long has the sign been there? No earlier than 1940, as it doesn’t appear in the tax photo from that year archived by the New York City Department of Records and Information Services. This stretch of the Bowery back then was all hardware stores, sign makers, and a low-rent hotel called the Gotham.

However old it is, this it’s a charming relic of a time when the Bowery made room for a deli or luncheonette with ice cream on the menu. It might qualify as a “privilege” sign—a store sign featuring a brand’s name and logo, and typically the name of the store. The store owners didn’t have to pay for the sign because it was free advertising for the brand.

To see a clearer image of the sign, visit the Facebook group Ghost Signs—this snap was taken by Tori Terazzi back in January.

Ice cream store ghosts of Columbus Avenue

May 28, 2012

At 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue, a lovely stained glass ice cream sign hides above a cafe, affixed to the second floor of a corner building.

It looks very 1920s or 1930s, but it’s a ghost sign that seems to have long outlived the store it was attached to. Whose store was it?

A few blocks north, at 74th Street and Columbus Avenue, is this less mysterious ice cream signage: for the J.M. Horton Ice Cream Company.

It’s a sweet remnant of the Upper West Side’s manufacturing past. So what happened to Horton?

More than a century ago, the small local dairy “was supplying over half of New York’s ice cream,” explains The New York Times in a 2000 article.

By 1930, competition from bigger producers put them out of business.

[Horton’s sign tip: Chris Wilmore]

The city’s oldest hardware stores (and signs)

May 25, 2011

Ever notice that hardware and paint supply stores in New York tend to be independent, family-named shops dating back generations?

How do they beat back bigger chains—do they own the buildings they’re in and therefore are immune to drastic rent hikes? Lure in customers with hard-to-find parts made for the city’s old buildings?

The number of independent drugstores, bookstores, and other shops keep dwindling, but these guys manage to stick around. Warshaw Hardware, on Third Avenue and 20th Street, has been holding court since before the Great Depression.

Vercesi Hardware, on 23rd Street near Lexington Avenue, got its start when Woodrow Wilson was running the country.

S. Wolf Paints and Wallpaper, on Ninth Avenue in the 50s, is the granddaddy of them all, opening in 1869—just a few years after the end of the Civil War!

Shuttered on a recent weekday, S. Wolf still seems to be in business though—they have a Yelp page after all.

New York’s iconic neon bar signs

July 13, 2010

I’m not much of a drinker, but the incandescent glow from those three little letters can really cast a spell, especially on a quiet dark night.

At right is the rosy-glow sign at Campanile, an old-school Italian restaurant on 29th Street between Madison and Park Avenues.

Smith’s, on 44th Street and Eighth Avenue, emphasizes their bar, not the grill. 

I wish the Fedora sign, on West Fourth Street for the past 60-plus years, had its lights on.

But that might be asking too much of this West Village survivor still hanging in there, not yet Marc Jacobs-ized or turned into a cupcake shop.

 Jeremiah can you fill you in.

More old signs with old phone exchanges

May 18, 2010

Raskin’s Fish Market, on Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights, looks like a remnant of another era, thanks to the old-timey sign and phone exchange.

That’s SL for Slocum.

But this kosher fish store, open since 1961, is no throwback—they even have their own Facebook page.

Abramson Brothers is a real-estate management company with properties across Manhattan.

This plaque is affixed to a handsome building at 333 West 52nd Street.

MU—for Murray Hill, of course!

The sweetest store sign in Manhattan

October 22, 2009

Economy Candy, on Rivington Street, has such a nice old-timey sign. It’s a neat place to poke around and stock up on old-school treats as well. 


The neighborhood candy store is fast becoming extinct in New York City, going the way of the independent drugstore and the superette. Let’s hope Economy stays put.

Old-school signs in the Garment District

November 3, 2008

The West 30s and 40s are a gold mine of faded and forgotten store signage. “Petite Button” is still open for business off of Sixth Avenue, selling buttons and buckles:

This sign, for the long-shuttered “All Wool Clothes” on Eighth Avenue, only became visible when a contemporary store went out of business and took that sign with them. The typeface looks very 1940s:

The disappearing soda fountain sign

September 22, 2008

They used to be all over the city: signs for delis, pizza parlors, and newsstands that featured the logos for Coca-Cola, 7Up, and other sodas.

Their days are numbered, but some of these soda-fountain signs are still around, like for this newsstand on Bleecker Street in the West Village:

This 7Up sign is the remnant of a restaurant that used to be on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea. Now, it’s a Thai place, but they never changed the sign:

A Coca-Cola sign for a deli, hidden by scaffolding in the Flatiron District:

Makes you thirsty, doesn’t it?

More old Brooklyn phone exchanges

September 19, 2008

Joe’s Superette on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens has the most wonderful store sign, which looks like it was put up around 1958. UL stood for Ulster. But what was Ulster?

The Valencia Bakery is on Broadway in Williamsburg. Besides a cool old 1960s sign, the WY exchange remains.

Vintage store signs that should be landmarked

June 20, 2008

Signs from the 1960s and 1970s are disappearing from New York City storefronts fast, mainly because so many mom and pop businesses themselves are biting the dust. It’s a shame, because they give city streets such a shot of color. Here’s a handful worth celebrating.

New Caporal is on Broadway and 156th. Gotta love that little yellow bird:

Ess-a-bagel, looking appetizing on the corner of 21st and First Avenue:

B & H, the one and only, on Second Avenue in the East Village:

And finally, this corner stationary store/drugstore in Long Island City: