Saturday, 28 April 2012

Old-time signs of New York and Winnipeg !

Old Sign
"Wohl's Sheet Metal"

There is a great piece in the Atlantic - Cities called The fading old-timey ads of New York City. You know, those wonderful painted signs from a bygone era that grace the sides of buildings ?

I've always been aware of Winnipeg's old signs. As a kid I can remember walking around or being driven places with my head looking toward the sky to see how many I could spot as a sort of game. It's the reason that I started taking pictures of the city - after years of saying "I should really try to take pictures of these before they're gone" I finally started back in 2007.

Old Sign
 "Bank of Montreal, Higgins and Main Branch"

My photo gallery of signs numbers 500 or so and has moved beyond just hand-painted wall murals, (see my gallery here.) They're something that I still keep an eye out for regardless of what city or town that I am in.

"Selkirk Hotel / O-Pee Chee Gum"

Some are truly works of art but I find that even the most basic sign can help tell about the history of a building or neighbourhood.

Over the years a number of these signs have disappeared due to demolition or vandals adding graffiti. Still, though, there are hundreds out there. Next time you're walking around the city look up, wayyy up !


Norman Beattie said...

I was turned on to fading hand-painted ad signs by "Walls", a book by Berlin photographer Deidi von Schaewen (Pantheon, 1977). Most of her photos (both colour and b&w) were taken in France and show old ads for Dubonnet and other familiar products as well as long-defunct brand names. Even more fascinating are her photos of the traces that demolished buildings leave on the walls of their surviving neighbours (wall paper, smoke stains from vanished chimneys, remnants of stairways).

mrchristian said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I know what you mean about "shadows". I took this house shadow just last month http://www.flickr.com/photos/christiansphotos/6832553900/

There's another great one on Main Street http://www.flickr.com/photos/christiansphotos/5819961567/

Norman Beattie said...

That ghostly tower on the Hargrave shadow is intriguing -- do you know what used to be there? The main street shadow really shows the character of pioneer buildings. Though not a fan of graffiti I like the green tag made by someone who was standing on the missing roof.