I’ve been fooled before, especially by photo shoots for TV series like The Knick, set in a Brooklyn hospital in 1905. I suspect this may be a recreation and I’ll get to that in a minute. If it’s real, it’s one of the oldest ads I’ve ever seen uncovered by a demolition. It’s on the north side of West 53rd between 8th and 9th avenues.
Most of it isn’t visible. But I’ve seen this style of lettering on ads dating to the 1870s: there’s a couple of them for a stables on West 17th just off 6th Avenue. The brick building the ad is on appears to be a former stables too.
The line I can make out says “Electric Cars Pass Premises.” To this I infer that trolley lines passed by the venue being advertised. Grand Central (Terminal) is also mentioned; while the present building dates to 1913, the original depot was built on the same acreage in 1871. I can’t account for why the ad is cut off on the right.
Now, here’s why I’m thinking that this ad may be a re-creation. Notice this Google Street View from May 2016 showing the same building with an empty space at the top where the brick wall ends. There’s no ad there! Was another layer of brick stripped off to reveal it or, as may be possible, did artists recently apply it for a video shoot?
Do you know the answers? Drop me at email@example.com.
Photo: Kun Kim.
ForgottenFan Edmund B.:
Yes, a layer of brick was removed.
The Google map photo shows interior plaster on what looks like a 1 foot thick layer of wall that was removed to reveal the sign. You can guess the thickness of the layer by looking at the white edge in the Google map picture.
So, yep the sign looks real.