Monday, June 22, 2009

Ghost Signs: Part 3

Location: Grayville, IL

Ghost Signs are prevalent not only in Arkansas, but all over the country. Whenever I'm driving anywhere, I'm always looking for signs. This sign in Illinois is still a mystery to me. I can make out the words "Mercury," "Book" and maybe "Job," but the rest is confusing. This sign's days are numbered.

But what I'd really like to talk about are the ghost signs I saw in Maine.

Location: Old Port, Portland

In Maine, the ghost signs aren't ghosts! Well, that's not entirely accurate. There isn't a paper company in that building, nor do I expect has there been in many years. But the sign has clearly been maintained and loved, just like almost everything with artistic value in Maine. Portland had the vast majority of the ghost signs I saw in Maine, but some other cities delivered as well.

Location: Camden

This is just the faint ghost of a ghost sign. Camden is a beautiful coast town close to Mount Battie, from the top of which Edna St. Vincent Millay derived the inspiration for the opening lines of her famous poem "Renascence."

Location: Rockland

When we got off of the Maine Eastern Railroad (more on that later) into Rockland, we did a good bit of exploring its excellent downtown. The above ghost sign seems to either be undergoing repainting, or the whole building is and the sign will soon be obscured. Millay was born in Rockland.

Location: Bath

My changing interests are reflected in this specimen, since when I actually lived in Bath I never noticed it. Now it's one of my favorites.

Location: Portland

Can you see this one? Trained eyes might notice the colossal "S" peeking out at the very top of this building that was probably once a factory. Note that all the windows are blocked in with cement now. When we walked around the perimeter, I noticed an artist has his studio in a small part of this building. Oh, Maine.

For the rest of this entry, I give you an exhaustive gallery of ghost signs found in Portland's old port. There are too many to give individual attention to each, so enjoy the pretty pictures. As always, click to enlarge!

Location: Also Portland

As a coda, I'd mention that while most modern wall-signage is reduced to the above sort of thing, a group in New York is doing something entirely different. A commentor on my previous post pointed me towards his blog, Ghost Signs, in which he and he fellows track down the signs in the United Kingdom. He also linked me to a video of the group I mentioned painting their own (classy) ads on buildings in NYC, streamed below.

So now when you're walking down your favorite downtown avenue and you see a fading ad for Nehi soda or Optima Flour, you can think of your old pal Luke.


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