Welcome to Ghost Signs, v. 3! The previous versions were low-quality grabs of grain low-def video tape, which was fine half a decade ago. But today’s discerning web patrons request – nay, demand – a better standard, so I’ve dumped the old pictures in favor of the gallery you’re about to see. It includes a few contributions from readers as well, notable for the higher quality than those I’ve shot.

Most of these come from Minneapolis; more will follow. On the left, a building in Chelsea in New York; it was taken many years ago, and has probably been replaced by a gigantic condo. It wasn’t exactly a going concern at the time, as you can tell. Whatever business J & F Grotta had, it’s long gone, along with the New York they serviced.

What’s the appeal of these ads?  Simple: they remind us of an era before gigantic electrical signs, a day where such giant colorful ads were plentiful, and added life to the streets in a way billboards can't. They usually tout brands or names that vanished from common discourse decades ago; their persistence and survival is the result of neglect or disinterest.  It’s said that the rain brings them out  - after a storm, you can see them a bit more clearly, make out a name. Then they fade back into the bricks again, until the day when not even the rain can bring them out again.

The following shots were taken in 2003 – 06. Enjoy.

                                    -- Lileks