Magnificent Obsessions, part 98
November 11, 2003 11:19 AM   Subscribe

More Magnificent Obsessions - - "This site intends to survey all of the signs in New York City from 14th Street to 42nd Street." Great photos of Ghost Signs, signs painted on buildings, signs attached to buildings, window signs, modern signs, graffiti signs, and even some pretty creepy signs, along with some surprisingly complete histories of the businesses the signs were made to advertise.
posted by anastasiav (14 comments total)
Prior related MeFi discussions: Ghost Signs and Magnificent Obsessions
posted by anastasiav at 11:19 AM on November 11, 2003

Walker Evans' Signs
posted by matteo at 11:33 AM on November 11, 2003

Take note of this one, which according to the caption, is painted directly on the brick, but doesn't look it!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:43 PM on November 11, 2003

I love towns with old signs. Not just NYC there are some great ones in the mid-west and west, old towns that became stuck in a certain era and never had the money or reason to change, islands stuck in time.
posted by stbalbach at 1:26 PM on November 11, 2003

I live in this hood so this is a fun site. I'll have to shoot and email them my favorite sign. It is a nean sign attached to the side of a restaurant that simply reads: CHEESE

I love NY.
posted by n9 at 1:38 PM on November 11, 2003

DevilsAdvocate, that's spectacular. The Post No Bills sign is funny; it's so ugly one feels very tempted to cover it up with something quickly - like a poster advertising a rave party next Friday night...
posted by taz at 1:47 PM on November 11, 2003

I apologize ahead of time for my ignorance because I've never actually set foot in New York City (closest I've ever been was Niagra Falls Canada close to two decades ago). What is the significance of 14th to 42nd street? I mean okay 42nd street was the name of a broadway musical. Why would that make it a cut off point? Are there no interesting signs south of 14th or north of 42nd? Or maybe the signs are off limits somehow to cameras, or just plain not photogenic? Is there something special about that section of Manhattan which escapes my limited brain capacity?

In response, please type slow. I am a Texan. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 2:03 PM on November 11, 2003

I am a Texan.

how do y'all spell 'neon' in texas?
posted by quonsar at 3:08 PM on November 11, 2003

how do y'all spell 'neon' in texas?

with a capital punishment.
posted by jazzkat11 at 8:22 PM on November 11, 2003

ZachsMind.. good question. I'll take a guess. I believe manhattan has two clustered areas of high-rise skyscrapers, in Midtown and Downtown. You can see this double-dip in the skyline. The reason for this being these are the areas the granite rock earth is solid enough to support the superstructures. The area between Midtown and Downtown is roughly in the 13th->42nd range and it probably has a lot of older smaller buildings that bypassed development in the later 20th C as the era of mega-skyscrapers saw all the development in Midtown and Downtown. So it would be a good place for old signs in a commercial area. Just a guess.
posted by stbalbach at 9:23 PM on November 11, 2003

Actually we shoot at people who ask us how to spell neon. Then we shoot at people who shoot at people who ask us how to spell neon.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:29 PM on November 11, 2003

...woah cool. So it's at least partly a matter of geology? Some parts of Manhattan attract people who like making sky scrapers and other parts, not so much. That's as good an answer as any. Thanks!
posted by ZachsMind at 9:33 PM on November 11, 2003

It is indeed partly geographic; stbalbach is correct. In some places Manhattan schist, the underlying bedrock, is close enough to the surface to make skyscrapers much more easily built. Downtown and Midtown are two of these. (It also pokes through the ground in Fort Tryon Park and other places near the very northern tip of Manhattan.)

Also, 14th Street is traditionally viewed as the boundary between Downtown and uptown -- dunno why. You hear hipsters and other annoying folk every so often boasting about how they never go "above 14th Street."

And why was 42nd Street chosen? Dunno, except it's roughly the middle of Midtown (which runs mebbe from 34th to 59th, though people differ on this), and also one of the more storied streets in the city.
posted by Vidiot at 12:30 AM on November 12, 2003

I love these kinds of links. : )

There are some good ghost ads in Chicago too.
posted by SisterHavana at 5:38 PM on November 12, 2003

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