Incomplete paint job is both awkward and incomplete. Above are before-and-after shots of two piano company adverts on the side of 1020 Market Street. Built in 1908, the building recently underwent it’s third graffiti/ghost sign abatement paint job, completely obscuring the C.G. Horn Pianos sign. However, this most recent (and most opaque) paint job frames the Pianos for Rent sign in a really lovely way. If you’re going to paint a third of a building in garish brick orange you might as well kern it to the ghost sign.
Also, I’m very curious about those triangular windows – they don’t exactly match the time period and/or architecture of this building.
As shot from Minna
While I hate to see old buildings go, part of me loves the jack-o-lantern smile of blocks in transition; especially when they lead to new ghost sign reveals. For instance, shown above is a picture I took in November 2011 of the Albain Hotel at 948 Mission Street.
The building dates from 1907 and has two clearly visible signs, one for a small rooming hotel and the other for a safe manufacturer.
Furnished Rooms ___ ____ $2.00 Up
I love this sign.
It’s decay and it’s color contrast and it’s geometry and it’s everything.
But looking at it closely; doesn’t that octagonal frame seem awfully fancy for a one hour photo shop? And the two arched frames to either side; those were definitely custom, right? So where did they come from?
After a spur of the moment trip to Burning Man I’ve restarted my photographic explorations of the city. Seems my prophesy in Temporary Ghost Advertising Zone was correct – they did replace the billboard and cover up the old Coca Cola sign underneath. See you again in five to seven years old friend.
PPPSSSTTT. Let me tell you a secret – Go to Port Costa, NOW. An old wheat shipping port well past it’s glory days; this tiny bayshore town is picturesque, eccentric, and situated in a geographic pocket of idyllic timelessness. In other words, it’s well worth the treacherous, winding drive from Crockett. Built into the cleft of a small canyon, the town ends at the shoreline parking lot for the infamous Warehouse Cafe. Per the New York Times, “The Warehouse Cafe was built in 1886 for the storage of wheat, hay and potatoes. Three stories tall and made of concrete with huge redwood beams, it has survived four fires, three earthquakes and countless wild parties.” Words simply cannot do it justice. Go there, drink beer from a mason jar, stare at the polar bear, and befriend old bikers. Just do it.
After exploring the area last weekend, I fell in love with the old theater marque sitting in the parking lot. Broken in two, it says State Theater and is decorated with poppies.
But Port Costa, even at it’s height, was never large enough to support a theater. So what is the provenance of this sign? And why is it sitting in the middle of nowhere, silently rotting away along the bayshore? Frankly, if this were a more generic, non-theater sign the question would be pointless – an internet rabbit hole leading nowhere. However, theater buffs are a meticulous and internet savvy breed making the sign’s origin easier to unravel.
1018 Mission Street
1018 Mission Street at Sixth Street; a five story SRO dating to 1911 and currently operating under the name Kean Hotel. Clear Channel recently removed a vandalized, weathered, and unused billboard from the building’s western wall temporarily revealing the long-hidden Coca Cola sign underneath. Will this sign remain visible for long? I’m guessing not. The billboard re/deinstallers never removed their scaffolding/platforms so I assume they intend to return and finish the job – and by “finish” I mean install a bigger and better billboard. Either that or they really, really wants someone to climb onto it and tag over the ghost sign.
This is actually one of two Coca Cola ghost signs on 1018 Mission Street. The other sign can be seen on the eastern wall facing towards 6th street. Both appear to be of a similar vintage. And what is that vintage? Well, they both feature the iconic “contour bottle” which was adopted in 1916 so they’re definitely no older than that (remember, the building is from 1911). However, it seems that until the mid-30′s a significant portion of Coca Cola’s advertising involved their soda served in a glass with the contour bottle gaining visual dominance somewhere in the late 30′s to late 40′s. So, if I had to make a vague, grasping, quasi-educated guess, I would put these ghost signs at the late 30′s through the late 40′s. Any Coca Cola experts care to further pinpoint the date?
1018 Mission before removal of the billboards. Photo circa December 2011.
View Ads of San Francisco in a larger map
I’m currently working on two slight variations of the Ghost Sign Mapping Project. The main map contains all the ghost signs in eastern San Francisco. The second map, pictured above, contains only the product/brand advertising signs. Created in March as a blog post for my day job (I work in advertising), it has been updated to reflect the last four months worth of sign research. Enjoy!
Finally someone left the gate unlocked! As seen in this blog post, there’s a very intriguing Owl Cigar sign overlooking this alley. Wrapping around two sides of 921 Post Street, I’ve had trouble pinpointing where this sign was originally meant to be viewed from. The back side of the sign isn’t visible from Post, isn’t visible from Geary, and is only vaguely visible from Hyde. So where was it meant to be viewed from?
Peekabo, I sorta see you. As shot from Hyde
Here is another locked gate that I greatly dislike:
Actually, this gate is often unlocked but Comcast vans are usually blocking the Nestle sign. My kingdom for some bolt cutters and the ability to hot wire a car!
Given the sign’s western-facing direction, that it’s considerably less dilapidated than the surrounding corrugated metal, and the modern can shape & pull tab I’m guessing this sign is “fake old” (or at least restored). However, I couldn’t find a lot on this specific ad/campaign so I’m unsure at this point. Still a gorgeous sign with a great retro color scheme. The sign says:
You’ll look better and love it!
Drink Nestle Sweet Success
Creamy Milk Chocolate
The front of the building can be seen here.
Until recently, there was a twin Nestle Sweet Success sign above CounterSpace on Mission at 9th. This has been effectively obscured by new high rise construction on Jessie Street although it can still be viewed on Google Maps. Oh hai Nestle sign! *waves*