On a jaunt crossing the 3rd Street Bridge spanning the Gowanus Canal in 2014, I spotted the gigantic neon Kentile Floors billboard on 9th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues for possibly the last time it was seen in place.
Kentile was founded in 1898 by Arthur Kennedy, hence “Ken-Tile,” and went out of business in 1992. It opened a factory on 2nd Avenue in the Gowanus area in 1949 — presumably when the neon sign was erected — which closed during the 1980s. Kentile sales fell off sharply after new discoveries regarding asbestos, heavily used in Kentile flooring and other products, and the cancer asbestos produces, were brought to light.
When I last read about the sign’s fate in Curbed in January 2017, a developer planned to spruce up a long-unused playground under the elevated tracks between 2nd and 3rd Avenues and 9th and 10th Streets, splitting up the letters in KENTILE, mounting them separately on ten-foot tall planters.
This would be disastrous. Mount the sign intact, or don’t bother. So far the sign remains in storage, awaiting whatever fate is in store for it.