Photo:

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

Though many lament the frenzy of change in New York’s oldest neighborhoods, there are still remnants of the past to see if you’d look up from your smartphone. Ghost signs, advertising signage that has survived long after a business has gone bust, are still around… but are disappearing fast.

Click through the slideshow to see our favorites, then leave your own in the comments.

<strong>10. S. Beckenstein Fabrics</strong>

10. S. Beckenstein Fabrics

The wordy signage of S. Beckenstein Fabrics at 130 Orchard Street covers every available inch of two floors of the facade. Arrows even point you to the entrance. Samuel Beckenstein, who started as a rag peddler in the early 20th century, built the company that moved into the former New York Telephone building in 1945. By 1999, the company had outgrown its roots on the LES. Beckenstein Home Fabrics is now located on West 20th Street.

<strong>9. Rex Cole</strong>

9. Rex Cole

Rex Cole promoted General Electric refrigerators in the 1930s with enamel signs attached to the exteriors of many New York buildings. Cole filed for bankruptcy in 1935 but two of his signs remain on the face of 239 East Fifth Street. The building’s owner, Charlotte Storper, told The New York Times that she and her husband Sidney bought the building in the 1950s. “We kept it all through the years, through the flower children and the ups and downs of the ‘60s and ‘70s,” she recalled. “At one point I said the signs were unsightly, but he said, ‘Those signs are a part of history.’”

<strong>8. G. La Rosa & Son Bread Co.</strong>

8. G. La Rosa & Son Bread Co.

The Elizabeth Street Gallery, a high-end home décor shop, has preserved the signage of G. La Rosa & Son Bread Co. The building, at 209 Elizabeth Street, is a renovated 1850s New York City firehouse. Giacchino La Rosa operated the bakery until the 1950s, when he retired and sold the business to a family member. By the mid-1970s only the hand-painted sign remained.

<strong>7. Chinatown OTB</strong>

7. Chinatown OTB

Only the government can lose money running a bookie operation. That’s what happened to New York’s Off-Track Betting, which started taking bets on horse races in 1971. The OTB at 7-8 Chatham Square in Chinatown was one of the city’s highest-performing betting parlors, but it closed when OTB went belly-up in 2010. The site is still vacant. Only the dual-language remains.

<strong>6. Tree-Mark Shoes</STRONG>

6. Tree-Mark Shoes

Built as a theater in 1928, the building that houses the Bowery Ballroom today was once the headquarters of Tree-Mark Shoes. The name is engraved on the roofline of 6 Delancey Street.

Tree-Mark was one of the building’s earliest and most enduring tenants, selling men’s and women’s shoes for almost thirty years. <em>The New York Times</em> noted that at Tree-Mark, “Comfort, rather than high style, is the goal.”

Tree-Mark was one of the building’s earliest and most enduring tenants, selling men’s and women’s shoes for almost thirty years. The New York Times noted that at Tree-Mark, “Comfort, rather than high style, is the goal.”

<strong>5. Ideal Glass</strong>

5. Ideal Glass

Today Ideal Glass is an art collective and gallery best known for murals that champion social issues. It has maintained the name and original hand-painted sign of the original glass shop at 22 East Second Street. Filmmaker Willard Morgan inherited the building from his uncle, who owned the shop in the 1960s. The gallery’s goal is to “shock, entertain and transform” with works that explore “gentrification, sexual identity and the slavery of debt.”

<strong>4. M. Schames & Son Paints</strong>

4. M. Schames & Son Paints

M. Schames & Son operated for decades at Three Essex Street. Even a large fire in 1940 couldn’t put the family out of the paint business. But when an adjoining building was demolished, the store’s wall was destabilized and Schames relocated to 90 Delancey Street. Schames left behind two building-wide signs that would make the American Pickers drool. Above the door is the company name and “PAINTS” in huge multi-colored letters.

Two stories up is a sign in immaculate condition that advertises Dutch Boy paints.

Two stories up is a sign in immaculate condition that advertises Dutch Boy paints.

<strong>3. De Robertis Caffé</strong>

3. De Robertis Caffé

After 110 years in business, De Robertis Caffé closed this past December. Former owner John De Robertis told us that the iconic neon sign above the entrance at 176 First Avenue was probably installed in the 1940s. Though the building has been sold and the last cannoli devoured, this classic piece of East Village signage remains. For now.

<strong>2. Wah Lin Chinese Laundry</strong>

2. Wah Lin Chinese Laundry

As you enter the Antler Beer & Wine Dispensary, you pass under a faded hand-painted sign for the Wah Lin Chinese Laundry. Little is known about the laundry at 123 Essex Street but Antler owner Kate Steinmetz told us how the sign was uncovered. “I recently bought the bar from my former boss. He uncovered the paint when he took over the space. It had previously been covered by the metal gate. I love it so much I refuse to put a sign for the bar over it.”

<strong>1. Louis Zuflacht & Sons</strong>

1. Louis Zuflacht & Sons

Somehow the sign for Louis Zuflacht & Sons, a men’s clothier at 154 Stanton Street, has survived despite having closed more than three decades ago. The sign, once lit with neon, dates from the early 1940s. The New York Times wrote that Zuflacht “provided Bar Mitzvah suits to loyal customers, many of whom patronized the shop for as many as 50 years.”

But the Zuflacht sign is nowhere to be seen today. The site is home to Abe’s Antiques, a fictional shop built for the ABC TV series Forever. “The Louis Zuflacht is under our sign,” an ABC production staffer told us. “It remains unblemished. In fact we went to great lengths to keep it in the condition we found it in.”

But the Zuflacht sign is nowhere to be seen today. The site is home to Abe’s Antiques, a fictional shop built for the ABC TV series Forever. “The Louis Zuflacht is under our sign,” an ABC production staffer told us. “It remains unblemished. In fact we went to great lengths to keep it in the condition we found it in.”