To paraphrase Yogi, you can observe a lot by looking. I was walking up Broadway after getting a new tour guide license when these painted window signs for Izquierdo & Vila, fabric exporters, manifested themselves at Franklin Street.

The elaborate lettering for the word “Fabrics” seems to point the ad toward the 1920s, 30s at the latest, but I think the synthetic fabrics, rayon, nylon and dacron signs were added after that. Rayon and nylon were in the language by 1940, while dacron seems to have originated in 1950.

The signs are on the Bernard Semel Building, and there’s undoubtedly a story behind that for another page.


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8 Responses to FABRIC SIGN

  1. Ed Findlay says:

    Rayon as a name is from 1924, it as a fabric is from 1904(current formula) but has roots dating back to 1855(older formulas).
    The cotton and rayon lettering looks smaller than the other lettering, I would venture that they were there first and the two later fabrics added post-war possibly by the people whose names are below the word nylons.

  2. I always wondered about the name behind the “Bernard Semel Inc” building when I used to ride the M-6 bus down Broadway. For those not familiar with the M-6, it was dropped in the last round of MTA budget cuts.

    • Hilary Semel says:

      This is a very late reply but Bernard Semel was my great great uncle who arrived in New York from Galicia as a teenager with his two brothers (also teens) and they all became fixtures of the Jewish textile business community downtown. My great grandfather and Bernard’s brother Harry Semel had a similar store across the street that is no longer there. I remember visiting Harry’s store (after my grandfather had taken over) as a very young child in the early 70s. None of the Semels are associated with building but some of them are still prominent in New York real estate development.

      • Ron Semel says:

        Hi Hillary,
        I doubt we’re related but we share the same last name and my family is in the textile industry still to this day in North Jersey.

  3. Mike in FLA via BKLYN says:

    Is this the same Semels that was on the corner of 39th st. & 4th ave. in Brooklyn for the longest time?

  4. Gary Dunaier says:

    Here’s another view, taken in May 2007 when they were installing new bus stop signs for the M1 and M6. Unfortunately for the purposes of this piece, the word “Fabrics” is obscured by the stepladder being used by the DOT men. (This photo is also a historic artifact, because the M1 and M6 no longer run down this part of Broadway; now, the M5 is the only local bus to serve downtown.)


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