SHOE FACTORY, Williamsburg

by Kevin Walsh

Amazingly this faded sign on Hewes Street between Broadway and South 5th Streets is pretty much unchanged since I first surveyed it in 1999.

Apparently it’s a palimpsest, or one sign painted over the other, though I’m unsure which came first. The Hebrew characters are in the Yiddish language and say something about scouring powder production or manufacture.


The other sign highlights the Thomas & Company shoe factory, which occupied this building in 1898 and at least several years after that. The company was out of business by 1924. This building hasn’t yet been gentrified or turned into residences, and still houses light manufacturing and perhaps a Jewish school. It’s a no nonsense 6-story brick building with arched windows.


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