April 7, 2009

Looking Up, Looking Back

A few weeks ago, I posted about my habit of looking up on my daily rounds in NYC. Even after being here almost 20 years, I'm still fascinated by the things I see walking around town. Like today--I was walking to the gym and, on 38th Street between Seventh Ave and Broadway, I spotted this old painted advertisement for the Horn and Hardart Automat.
The original fast food, the Automat originated in Philadelphia in 1902, opened in Times Square in 1912 and closed for good in 1991. My best guesstimate would put the age of this sign at about 40-50 years, which is remarkable considering the speed at which things change in Manhattan.

However, this sign is only one of many I've noticed over the years that still cover walls long after the businesses have closed. Some even advertise things like "haberdashery" and "carriage services" and have old school phone numbers like CHelsea3-7188. The Forgotten-NY website here has a great catalog of old painted signs in all five boroughs. And, if you keep looking up, you may discover a new one today.