San Francisco, Mason at Chestnut, Wash This!
I love this trio of hand painted signs. The peeling background color, the awkward bubbles, the slightly crooked soda and detergent logos, the horribly dated pricing. I want to drink nostalgic sodas and wash my laundry for 20¢ a load! I will be over caffeinated and clean and all will be right in the world.
Can an element of the urban environment be considered endangered? If so, are there categories, or heirarchies, of importance to be taken into account with this assessment? Is a neighborhood more important than a street than a building than an architectural element? And what about old signs and ads? Can an advertisement be considered of historic or sentimental significance? Can we detach the business/brand from the aesthetic of the ad from the context it’s shown in? Does that even matter?
Below is Phase #1 of my San Francisco Ghost Sign Mapping Project. In this phase, I’ve been meticulously walking the streets of eastern San Francisco documenting the old painted advertisements, or ghost signs, that I’ve come across. While ghost signs come in three generic categories – ads/brands, business/building signs, and illegible – I’ve focused on the first type for this map.
View Ads of San Francisco in a larger map
About my methodology: I walked up and down the streets of San Francisco, skipping the residential sections, and generally walking north/south streets some days and east/west streets on others. The signs I’ve included are either A) recognizable brands/companies or B) ads/billboards for businesses whom are NOT tenants in the buildings in question C) Any ad including an address or phone number. This is a work in progress and I’m sure I’ve missed many signs. Please let me know in the comments if you can think of any omissions I’ve made.
Turk Street, San Francisco
Who doesn’t love giant cocks? On their building facade? In fanciful, psychedelic colors?
Same ad campaign. Same vintage. Different sides of the bay. Very different fates.
Founded by Max J. Brandenstein in 1881, the MJB COFFEE WHY? slogan dates to 1910. MJB was one of three major coffee brands founded in San Francisco – the other two being Folgers and Hills Bros.
Washington at 8th, Oakland
Clay at Powell, San Francisco
California at Larkin
You don’t need to be an objectum sexual or Ballardian protagonist to see the aesthetic sexuality inherent in some buildings. The way that line, mass, and shape converge into strangely provocative visual statements – totally hot. This, however, is not one of those buildings. Oh no, in keeping with my pretentious first sentence this is a Cronenbergian horror of the first order. There’s something off here. Something small and subtle that pricks at the subconscious. What could be causing this fairly generic example of post-earthquake architecture to feel so decidedly creepy and wrong?