Saturdays in Borough Park, especially around 13th or 14th Avenues, are as quiet as 8 AM on January 1st. My observational senses were especially keen given the lack of traffic cacophony. Therefore, I was surprised to see something I had never noticed on this building on the corner of 13th Avenue and 39th Street — given that I had passed it hundreds of times on a bicycle or going by in a bus. First of all it’s a magnificent apartment house with stores on the ground floor, and heavily lentiled arched windows on the second. Most of the original roof treatment is still intact. It was on that corner bay that I noticed…
.. some serifed script. It says:
THE. ABELS. & GOLD. BUILDING.
From this, my alter ego, Captain Obvious, would deduct that two persons named Abels and Gold commissioned the building somewhere between, I’d guess, between 1890 and 1910, and the periods after every word are an orthographical affectation — although I’ve never seen periods used quite this way in anything I’d seen before.
Another possibility — slim — is that the period after “THE” indicates that it’s an abbreviation, possibly for “Theodore.” I’m rereading my now-dogeared copy of Luc Sante’s “Low Life” and within it we meet Bowery saloon keeper The. Allen, known in his day as “the wickedest man in New York” (yes, the title has changed hands many times). Sante does not say that “The.” is short for Theodore, but that’s my interpretation. I think, though, the the first explanation, typographical whimsicality, is the best one.
2/21/16: ForgottenFan Yitzchok Shteierman found an article in a 1907 Real Estate magazine about Mr. Abels and Mr. Gold. As it turns out the period is there as a decoration only, and Mr. Abels’ name was Simon.
1/14/16; update, 2/21/16