KEEP SEARCHING for ancient writing on the wall

by Kevin Walsh

An acquaintance of mine, a ForgottenFan, recently complained in her blog entry about slow walkers in NYC, and the impositions they put on most other people in NYC, who like to walk fast — on the way to jobs, meetings, dates, making more money, and whatever New Yorkers walk fast in order to reach. I’ve always walked slowly and deliberately, even though I am capable of walking faster (I adapt when I am with someone who wants to go faster). I walk a lot, but frankly, don’t want to exert myself all that much, and I’ve always wondered why people have to walk so quickly. I have always seen it as a public statement that they are important people and have somewhere important to go. I have no such pretensions, and I feel free to shuffle down the street at my own pace. Forgotten NY is built in part on the fact that I walk slowly and am able to notice things fastwalkers don’t. And, to make a painful segue, I have several items today you’d never notice if you were zooming along with your head down.

Once again, FNY correspondent Gary Fonville provides some views of ancient signs around town, and giving your webmaster a virtual week off in the process (even though I’m working on two other projects while putting this page together)…

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ABOVE:  Almost 100% of the signs displayed in FNY are able to be seen by the general public. This is probably a first. This sign can only be seen by New York City Transit Authority employees from the inside of the 207th Street yard in Inwood, Manhattan. This sign probably dates from the yard’s construction in the early 1930s.
(It says: “right turn only permitted” … perhaps the ‘only’ should have been in front of ‘right.’)
BELOW: Mullins Furniture operated as a viable entity until the 1970s. One of the last operated on Fulton Street near Ashland Place in Brooklyn. The sign can be seen at 3rd Avenue near 40th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

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ABOVE:  Another long gone retailer has left its trace for FNY to rediscover. Terrestris has been shuttered for nearly thirty years now. These traces can be seen on the north side of the Manhattan approach to the 59th Street or Queensborough Bridge.
BOTTOM 2:  Surprisingly, McDonald’s has been around long enough to have faded signs. This fading one can be very easily missed at 31st Street & Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

(This might be hard to fathom now, but before the mid-70s the McDonalds footprint on NYC was fairly small. This ad likely directs 4th Avenue motorists to the golden arches at 4th and 37th, which was the very first McDonalds at which I ever ate in NYC — in 1975. I could then wait for the B70 bus to get me home to Bay Ridge.) That McD’s is still there.

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LEFT: Off the beaten commercial strip of Broadway near Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn, this faded beauty on Ellery Street can be seen. (I recognize “lineoleums” but not much else — any ideas? This seems to be a palimpsest of one painted sign atop another)
RIGHT: Furniture and rugs could be purchased at Anderson’s. Manhattan Avenue near Nassau Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

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LEFT: Swingline Staples for many years had an iconic neon sign near the Pennsylvania Railroad (now Amtrak) Sunnyside Yards bordered by Northern Boulevard and Skillman Avenue in Long Island City, Queens. The company, whose roots are in NYC, bolted from Queens in the 1990s. Production is currently in Mexico. However, the company did leave this behind on their former factory Queens Boulevard near Van Dam Street.
RIGHT: Pine Sash Door & Lumber is still in business. Their faded sign is quite visible from the 62nd Street (and 14th Avenue) platform on the Coney Island bound side of the D or M train on the West End BMT line in Borough Park, Brooklyn.(Regina Pacis Church, the tallest structure in Bensonhurst at 65th Street and 12th Avenue, can be seen in the background)

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LEFT: War bonds were sold by the U.S. government during WWI and WWII. Which war does this date from at the east side of 116th Street & 3rd Avenue in Spanish Harlem?

(Your webmaster’s guess is WWII. Here Bugs, Porky and Elmer, before he went on a diet, urge the purchase of war bonds)
RIGHT: Blockbuster has been in a retrenching mode for several years here in NYC. The sign on the former Amsterdam Avenue outlet near 120th Street was visible up to last year. (Twas Netflix busted the Blockbuster.)

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LEFT: The Sayegh Hey Kid. Two for one is the mode here on a tenement building at 238th Street & Broadway in Kingsbridge, The Bronx.
RIGHT: Although it says “RKO Flushing”, this was also known as the RKO Keith’s Theater. Constructed in 1928 for nearly 3,000 patrons, it showed movies until the mid 1980s and has been a hulking ruin ever since. Northern Boulevard and Main Street.

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LEFT: It’s hard to read this one on Atlantic Avenue near St. James Place in Brooklyn. But enough can be discerned to see that it was for some sort of construction business.
RIGHT: Faraway destinations could be traveled to using this former unidentified travel agency. A building on the east side of 8th Avenue & West 40th Street hosted this one.

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Needed some tile? Degraw Street & 4th Avenue in Brooklyn is the location of this sign for a company that recently went out of business.
(A casualty in the battle for 4th Avenue in Park Slope, as developers of high-rise apartment buildings have gained the upper hand over gas stations, flat-fix shops and car repair joints)

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LEFT: It appears that this sign was recently exposed due to a demolition at Evergreen and Flushing Avenues in Brooklyn. CENTER: FNY recently did a Manhattan Avenue entry. This sign at Manhattan & Driggs Avenues in Greenpoint, Brooklyn was somehow missed. RIGHT: Ashland Place between Dekalb Avenue and Fulton Street in Brooklyn†is the home for this nearly washed out sign.

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Some guys get out of the doghouse by ordering flowers from FTD. The Brooklyn -Queens Expressway near Graham Avenue in Brooklyn.

Photos and commentary by Gary Fonville