Monday, September 14, 2015

(Photos) Detroit ghost signs

Ghost signs are old hand-painted wall advertisements and store signage that survive decades after they were first committed to bricks or other hard surfaces. They're more common in decaying neighborhoods--abandonment of a building or simply not caring allows these throwbacks to survive.

I found a few in Detroit during my visit this summer.

The storefront at 527 Larned Street East in downtown has been vacant for years. But the wall ad where an all service station must have stood reads, "Goodrich De Luxe Truck Tires" remains. Barely readable on the bottom is the tiremaker's old slogan, "Best in the long run." That is certainly the case with this BF Goodrich ghost ad.

At 12094 Rosa Parks Boulevard a grocery once touted itself as "Your Family Food Store." But it is abandoned and you can no longer purchase Lotto Daily tickets.

Across the street is a closed radiator repair shop. When I checked out Google Street View's 2008 drive-thru--this business was open.

And back across the street is the onetime Bible Community Mission, a former auto repair garage.

I might be pushing the definition of a ghost sign with this entry because the faded lettering may not have been painted on. This structure on Seven Mile Road is the former headquarters of Local 98 of the Plumbers Union. As with many Detroiters, the union fled to the suburbs--in their case Troy.

Returning to Rosa Parks Boulevard--but several miles away--is metachronistic painted wall sign that I posted on Marathon Pundit in July. This one originally read, paradoxically, "Out of a job yet? Keep voting Republican. Bet $10,000. Obama & Biden. Vote 2012."

The host apartment building was destroyed in a fire last year.

It appears that the Incredible Hulk broke out of the Astro Warehouse, which used to operated out of the old Packard plant.

A couple of blocks away from that abandoned factory is the former Helen Supermarket at 5500 Helen Street. It's an amazing throwback--although this building is too small to host a real supermarket--this grocery store is on the corner of two side streets, Helen and Ferry. Even in Detroit there was a demand at one time for a walk-up grocery store. You will notice that there are now windows here--break-ins were likely a problem before the store was sealed off.

At 14th and Marquette the appropriately-named 14th and Marquette Clinic once operated--with Dr. R.P. Young in charge. It looks like another ghost sign is beneath this one.

Now we're back downtown. While the Farwell Building at 1249 Griswold Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it has been vacant for an astounding thirty years. Yes, office space is available.

Particularly in Detroit an abandoned building attracts new kinds of painters--graffiti taggers.

Near the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit is the Riverside Storage ghost sign.

Above the Detroit News Building at 615 W. Lafayett is a faded Detroit Free Press sign. Until last autumn the two newspapers shared space in the Albert Kahn-designed structure. On its website the new owners PhotoShopped the sign out.

As Target emerged from Dayton's, Kmart emerged from Kresge's. Similar to Woolworth, Kresge's was a five-and-dime store. The better stores were 25 cents to $1 dollar stores.

As for Mince, I hate him too.

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