COTTON BAGS, Williamsburg

by Kevin Walsh

March 2019 marks Forgotten New York’s 20th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, I’ve re-scanned about 150 key images from the early days of FNY from 35MM prints. In the early days, when people including me were accessing FNY with dial-up modems, I had to save photos really small — in some cases, just 4″ across. I couldn’t find all those early photos — I think I foolishly discarded some along the way — but all month, and into the spring, I’ll be picking out some and showing the newly scanned versions.

Here’s a scene from the very first Forgotten NY tour which took place on June 1st, 1999. I think attendance was around 10 or 15 people in the first five years or so, tours could attract as many as 35-40), but it did attract Steve Anderson of NYCRoads , Jeff Saltzman of Jeff’s Streetlite Site and Frank Jump of Fading Ads, which were all major influences on Forgotten New York. We walked from Broadway and Kent Avenue straight down Broadway, intending to walk the avenue’s entire length, to Broadway Junction in East New York. We wound up cheating a bit, getting a J train at Flushing Avenue, stopping off at the Myrtle Avenue platform to capture some fading ads there, and then on to Chauncey Street, where we shot an ad from the late 1800s that Frank had discovered (like most of the classic painted ads found on Broadway in 1999, it’s since been painted over, torn down or faded to intelligibility).

Before embarking down Broadway, we took note of some painted ads on the east side of Kent Avenue (site of one of my favorite page titles), which included this one for cotton & burlap bags. The adjoining building had an ad for “Daveco Hair Feathers.” These buildings still stand today but the ads have since ben powerwashed to oblivion.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”


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