It couldn’t have been easy being a barber on St. Marks Place during the hippie era but somehow one shop has survived. Now called the St. Marks Barber Shop, the haircutter has been around since the 1960s or ’70s, according to Albert, one of the shop’s barbers.
Recovering hippies may recall when this was the Royal Unisex Barber Shop, located across St. Marks from the Electric Circus. A ghost sign, with mind-blowing psychedelic lettering, was covered by a new sign for the shop in 2017 but was recently resurrected.
For more ghost signs of the East Village and Lower East Side, check out our series.
This doesn’t double our pleasure. Not one bit. What was once an ad for Wrigley’s Spearmint gum has been tagged, depriving the East Village of one of its great ghost signs. Frank Mastropolo wrote about the wall in 2015:
Lanza’s Italian restaurant opened in 1904 at 168 First Ave., an East Village favorite until it closed in 2016. A regular customer, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, was Carmine “Lilo” Galante, boss of the Bonanno crime family. Lanza’s had a reputation as a mob hangout since the Bonanno and Columbo families dined there.
For perhaps the entire life of Lanza’s, all its customers passed under a turn of the century ad for PN Corsets. The sign was there in 1993 when Woody Allen used Lanza’s for a restaurant scene in Manhattan Murder Mystery. In 2015 we featured the PN ad, painted on the adjoining building, in a collection of neighborhood ghost signs.
Last week was Record Store Day. This week is record store back in the day. This ghost sign was recently revealed during the demolition of the J&R Music World strip of stores on Park Row. The pitch for “tapes” probably dates the sign to the mid-sixties but vinyl was still king as “needles” takes the top rung. The word “stereo” is obscured above the cool music notes.
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.
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. More →