SEE THE USA but first see some ancient signage in the Bronx and Brooklyn

by Kevin Walsh

Forgotten NY correspondent

FNY’s cameras are always busy picking out things that exemplify NYC’s past. Some things that our cameras find are many decades old, but some may be barely a few years old…

TITLE CARD: S.M. Rose was a vibrant Chevrolet dealership until sometimes in the 1970’s. Now the building houses a carpet emporium. However, the famous Chevy “bow tie” has survived here at Fordham Road near Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

LEFT: This sign shows how new technology antiquates a business’ sign. Barely a decade ago beepers or pagers were considered a high tech device. The explosion of cellphone use has made that technology obsolete. This business on Nostrand Avenue near Park Place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn was a victim of that obsolescence.

RIGHT: The Law Building at Third Avenue near the beginning of St. Ann’s Avenue in Mott Haven, Bronx was conveniently located. It was located directly across the street from the old Bronx County Court House and was probably used to house lawyers’ offices. Fortunately, the former courthouse will not be demolished but will be renovated and used for other purposes.

Your webmaster: one of my favorite buildings in the South Bronx –glad Gary included it.

LEFT: Traces of A&P [originally the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company] have almost disappeared from the NYC landscape. This one was discovered here on an Associated supermarket on Nostrand Avenue near Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

RIGHT: Before the New York Central Railroad merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad to form Penn Central, it had a formidable presence in NYC. This commuter station, now used by the Metro North Harlem Division is one of the few places where you can still see a New York Central sign. It’s located on Fordham Road near Webster Avenue in the Bronx.

LEFT: The name Con Ed is iconic to New Yorkers. When’s the last time you’ve heard any refer to them as Consolidated Edison? A substation on 134 Street between Walnut and Willow Ave in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx displaystheir formal name.

RIGHT: The electronics industry has ceased using vacuum tubes except in very high end products for nearly forty years. A storefront on Canal Street near Lafayette Street in Manhattan displays this sign.

LEFT: A barbershop now occupies the former location of Kaplan’s Pharmacy on Schenectady Avenue and St. Marks Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

RIGHT: A.S. Beck’s administrative offices were once located here on 138 Street & Walnut Avenue in Mott Haven, the Bronx. FNY highlighted a gorgeous Art-Deco A.S. Beck sign on 34th Street across from Macy’s a few years ago.

LEFT: What’s left of a bakery chimney that once spelled out Ward’s Bakery is located next to the former bakery at East 143 Street & Southern Boulevard in the Bronx. Ward’s Bakery better known by its main product, Tip Top bread. Industry consolidated doomed its fate of locally owned large scale bakers such as Ward’s.

[Another Ward’s Bakery building was demolished in preparation for the controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.]

ABOVE RIGHT: Shades of the Cold War. Fallout shelters were once common around NYC back in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. A building on Empire Boulevard near Nostrand Avenue displays this two-for-one special.

Your webmaster: with the Russian Bear aprowl again and states like Iran and North Korea aspiring to acquuire nuclear weapons, can fallout shelters be on the way back? Unlikely: there’s likely no ready protection against the superbombs that can be built today.

LEFT: The New York Daily News once used this building as a garage on Third Avenue between Douglass and DeGraw Streets in Brooklyn..The paper has shifted its printing and garage operation to Jersey City, New Jersey while it maintains its editorial operation on W. 33rd Street in Manhattan. Wasn’t it once called “New York’s Hometown Paper”? More on the Gowanus area here.

RIGHT: This sign touting that it’s protected by Wells Fargo and that there’s no parking to be done on this private driveway on Chauncey Street near Broadway in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn.

Many people don’t recognize these as glass panels that were designed to allow natural light to filter into a dark place. This technique of lighting was used in the original IRT to flood the platforms with natural light. They were also used in the original Pennsylvania Station. The IRT discontinued its use because over a period of time, water leaked around the panels. These types of panels can be seen today on the southbound station of the 96th Street & Broadway station for the #1, 2 and 3 trains near the rear exit. The ones in Pennsylvania Station are a bit tricky to see, but they can be seen by looking up at the ceiling on the platform level.

The manufacturer’s nameplate still survives on the south side of Livingston Street just east of Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn.

LEFT: Von Glahn Bros.: An epidemic of conversion to housing from factories can be seen in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn at this former factory at Washington Avenue and Park Avenue.

RIGHT: The Bell System (now AT&T) manhole can be seen across the street from another conversion at Willoughby Street between Bridge and Lawrence Streets in Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn. The former phone company building is now contains luxury housing along with its astronomical prices.

[For much more on manholes, see this FNY page]

[Your webmaster has always had a fascination with brick factories turned residential. See a fine example in Jersey Citythat we highlighted in February 2008]

LEFT: Barrett says your building will be better built on Eastern Parkway near Saratoga Avenue in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn.

RIGHT: The word MILLINERY has virtually disappeared from our lexicon. Only the older generation would know its meaning. However, for the younger generation, it was a place where women could purchase hats. Women could purchase hats in the shadow of the Fulton Street el at 1578 Fulton Street near Sumner Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. [The word derives from the Italian city of Milan, which remains a fashion mecca]

More recent pages by GaryFADING AWAYGREAT SANTINIGOTCHA FAIR AND SQUARE, SADDLES, CORSETS AND DAIRIES, PRESERVATION BY DEFAULT (faded ads); WRITING ON THE WALL (street names on buildings); RUNNING THE NUMBERS (telephone exchange names on signs); SCHRAFFT’S and other building ads; NEON NOODLINGS (neon signs) BRING ME EDELWEISS! (forgotten dairies)