All photos: Frank Mastropolo.

With the rapid pace of development in the Lower East Side and East Village, it’s remarkable that so many ghost signs – ads that have long outlived their businesses – have survived. As you’ll see, sometimes progress can also reveal long-hidden signs. In January we brought you our Top 10 favorite ghost signs but there are too many good ones left to stop now. Click through the slideshow that follows to see our picks, then leave your own in the comments.



In March, the sign for the defunct Sleepy’s mattress shop was removed from the façade of 138 Delancey Street. It revealed what was left of the neon sign of Ratner’s, the famous kosher dairy restaurant that served blintzes and latkes from 1918 to 2002. Open 24 hours a day for most of its run, Ratner’s was a frequent stop for Jewish performers like Groucho Marx, Al Jolson, Alan King and Henny Youngman. Gangsters like Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky were also regulars. The Ratner’s sign was torn down days after its reveal during construction of the upcoming CityMD urgent care center.

<strong>Crankcase Flushed / Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum</strong>

Crankcase Flushed / Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum

This large sign on the Lafayette Street side of 20 Bond Street has survived for decades despite the flurry of development around it. The sign, nestled around a second-floor window, invites you to have your crankcase flushed by what was probably the auto mechanic shop below. A close look above that reveals a faded ad for Wrigley’s Spearmint gum that probably dates from the 1940s.



The musical tradition of the Lower East Side spans from George Gershwin to Lady Gaga, so it’s no surprise that a store here once offered “incredible prices” on new and used pianos. The piano shop’s back room also served as a theater venue. Today Pianos, a popular alt-rock spot featuring live music, has kept the name and sign of the store it replaced.

<strong>Bowery Branch YMCA</strong>

Bowery Branch YMCA

The Bowery Branch of the YMCA opened at Eight East Third Street in 1915 as a place where “a needy man finds a friend” during a time when the Bowery was the last stop for New York’s homeless. The YMCA sold the property to New York City in 1947 but a wall sign survives in an alley between the building and the trendy Bowery Hotel. The sign offers lodging, meals and employment for the Bowery’s poor. Today Project Renewal continues to help the homeless on the site.

<strong>Self-Storage Rooms</strong>

Self-Storage Rooms

The three-story sign that advertises self-storage rooms on the East and West Side doesn’t yield a clue to their exact addresses. The ad is painted on the Houston Street side of 302-304 Mott Street. Looking at the sign today, you couldn’t tell what business it advertised. In a 2013 photo, “self-storage rooms” is clearly seen. Today those words are almost completely worn away.

<strong>Mann Refrigeration</strong>

Mann Refrigeration

In 1952, Mann Refrigeration set up shop at 436 Lafayette Street, a cast-iron and brick structure built in the 19th century. Mann sold refrigerators and coolers to the restaurant industry for 20 years. Today Alan Moss Studios, an antique furniture dealer, has left the impressive brass clock installed above the door that advertises Mann Refrigeration.

<strong>PN Corsets</strong>

PN Corsets

The four-story ad for PN Corsets was probably painted on the side of 170 First Avenue in the early 20th century, years before Madonna made the girdle a fashion statement. Because neighboring 168 First Avenue, home of Lanza’s Restaurant, is set back a few feet, there is just enough wall space for the thin vertical ad. The legible part of the sign reads, “You Want a Good Corset? Get the PN Corset.” (Inset: a 1923 print ad for PN Corsets, courtesy of Attic Paper)

<strong>PN Corsets (close up)</strong>

PN Corsets (close up)

<strong>Beinecke & Co.’s Stables</strong>

Beinecke & Co.’s Stables

Bernhard Beinecke was a hotel operator, banker and meat packer who used 33 Great Jones Street as his company’s stables in the early part of the 20th century. Beinecke operated one of the largest stockyards in New York on the Hudson River at 59th Street. Though the building has been converted to luxury apartments, Beinecke’s company name has been preserved in the lunette above the center windows.

<strong>Spanjer Signs</strong>

Spanjer Signs

In 1926, Spanjer Signs moved its plant to 189 Chrystie Street, where it created architectural signs for the immigrant merchants who flocked to the Lower East Side. After decades in the neighborhood Spanjer moved to Long Island City but its elegant sign remains. Today The Box, a “Theatre of Varieties,” stages shows there that feature magicians, fire-eaters and circus acts.

<strong>Peter Jarema Funeral Home</strong>

Peter Jarema Funeral Home

Though it probably dates from the late 1960s, the three-story sign for Peter Jarema Funeral Home on the wall of the Horseshoe Bar is not technically a ghost sign. Jarema Funeral Home is still in business and has even kept the same phone number, though the sign’s ORchard-4 exchange is now 674. The huge ad is on the Seventh Street side of the bar, also known as 7B for its location at 108 Avenue B. As Vazac Hall, the site was a catering hall in the 1930s. That name still endures under the Jarema sign.