NEXT time you are in midtown between 5th and 8th Avenues and 23rd and 40th Streets, be sure and look up at all the ancient brick buildings, built in stolid fashion from 1915-1935, that used to be full of clothing wholesalers and manufacturers. From 1915 to the 1970s, there were perhaps thousands of them here, and many of them advertised with painted ads. They started fading from the time they were painted, but some grades of paint are better than others, and many can still be made out.
This one, at #1 East 33rd Street near 5th Avenue for handbag designer Robert Bestien, is one of the newer in the bunch because the company occupied this building from 1978 to 1987; ’78 is likely the year this was painted, so it’s a good 50 years younger than some of the painted ads in the area. Bestien handbags are readily available from ebay and other outlets, but there’s precious little on the world wide web about the designer himself.
The “handbags MM” ad on the left refers to designer Morris Moskowitz, who was in this building between 1952 and 1984.
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