Some more golden goodies from Brooklyn….  


Photo: Gary Fonville

Though Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn has tried hard to homogenize and mall-ify itself over the last 20 years, a quick glance skyward along its antiquated upper stories is like taking a trip back in time. Here, we see a former London Shoe store and, as the sign implies, London shoes gave you character.

(I’m told ‘character shoes’ are actually dancing shoes; see this link.)

Remember the old Adler Shoes radio ads? “No matter where you go in Adler Shoes, you are not alone! Old Man Adler stands behind every pair of Adler Shoes!…”

When I was a kid Stride-Rite shoes were the way to go when I wasn’t wearing Keds or Converse. Spiegel’s on Sheepshead Bay Road had ’em, though Marty’s in Bay Ridge was my home base.

Photo: Gary Fonville

I wonder what cars looked like when this Goodrich Tires ad was first painted.

Photo: Gary Fonville

You’d be surprised how many pawn shops there still are around town, with the ancient three-globe symbol. I’m not sure if 134 Myrtle Avenue even exists anymore: if it’s west of Flatbush avenue, it doesn’t.

Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn

Photo: Gary Fonville

A pair of old-school neon signs on Fulton Street. Need more liquor signs?

Photo: Gary Fonville

Acme Burlap Bags.

Of course, the Acme Company, who provided the perennially-defective road-runner catching products employed by Wile E. Coyote, was mythologized by one of the world’s greatest cartoonists, Chuck Jones, who passed away in February 2002.

Photo: Gary Fonville

Since those who have met your webmaster claim my hair looks like an unmade bed most of the time, I’m completely unfamiliar with hair tonic. What is it anyway? Just a means of plastering it down so the wind won’t blow it around, or is it, as the name implies, somehow a restorative agent, a Rogaine before there was Rogaine?

At the onset of middle age, your webmaster yet needs neither Rogaine nor Viagra. Maybe some Stacker 2 though.

We find a pair of very golden oldies on Wythe Avenue and North 1st Street in north Williamsburg. When these ads were painted, the Brooklyn harbor was a busy place indeed as ships crowded the piers and now-forgotten railroads carried freight between the docks and connected to lines out of the city. Here is an ad for Meyer Brothers Ship Supplies and, at right, for Pearline Soap. From the looks of these, they date to the very early 1900s or, perhaps, the 1890s or earlier. Is that “Pear-Line”, or Pearline, as in, “like pearl”? I think it was the latter.

Eldert St. near Wilson Avenue in Bushwick. Chris Sattler submited this pix of what is likely a Te Amo cigar sign.

Tabard Piano,  with old neon, 61st Street near 14th Avenue, Bensonhurst

Broadway, Williamsburg

By now, eveyone has heard of the problems KMart, one of the USA’s biggest retailers, is having, but if you’ve been around long enough you remember when it was Kresge’s, a 5 & 10-cent store that was the chief competition for Woolworth’s.

Photo ©1999 by Brian Merlis and Lee Rosenzweig, from Brooklyn's Park Slope

In the photo at right on 5th Avenue and 10th Street , Kresge’s holds down the southwest corner, while Woolworth’s, sporting the same red and gold sign it used until it succumbed in the 1980s, is on the northwest corner.

It’s 1928…notice the then-fashionable cloche hats on the ladies.

When you look at photos from the 20th Century and earlier, you begin to appreciate the true revolution of the 1960s: the decade that made comfortable clothing respectable.


Brooklyn’s Park Slope, Brian Merlis & Lee Rosenzweig, Israelowitz Publishing & Brooklyn Editions 1999
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