Showing posts from 2012

Ukrainian-Language Ghost Sign in Chicago

Due to historical reasons, there are very few Ukrainian-language ghost signs in Ukraine, but in the Ukrainian Village (a neighborhood on the north side of the city) in Chicago, there is one in Ukrainian, and it is possible that there had been more. The one that I found is for a Ukrainian bank (Security Savings Bank) that was bought out by MB Financial Bank about 10 years ago. The ghost sign is probably from the 1960s or 70s.

Security Savings Bank Платимо дивіденду квартально 5% від ошадностей (translated: Dividends paid quarterly 5% interest on savings)

Chernivtsi's Ghost Signs

Chernivtsi /Cernăuți / Czernowitz, located in south-western Ukraine near Romania, was a multicultural city that at various times had large populations of Romanians, Jews, Ukrainians, Germans, Poles, Russians, and Roma. Chernivtsi was the capital of the Bukovina region of the Austrian Empire. In 1918, it was annexed by the Kingdom of Romania. Traces of its multicultural past, such as ghost signs, are still present in the urban landscape. The ghosts signs that I found are in Romanian, but in the first one there seems to be either a German or Jewish surname. (Thank you Shaun Williams for translations.)

most likely says: MARE DEPOZIT
BĂUTURI SPIRTOASE  (Large stock of alcoholic beverages)

most likely part of the words: ȘCOALĂ PENTRU = SCHOOL FOR...
Department of Public Works Electromechanical Enterprises
The City of Chernivtsi
Î.E.M.C.  Operating at Bucurest St. No.1

and underneath the top ghost sign some words translate to:

Banking in foreign countries…
and a mode…

Ghost Signs in Uzhhorod, Transcarpathia

Uzhhorod (Ungvár / Užhorod / Ungwar), a city in Transcarpathia (Zakarpattia Oblast of Ukraine), which is near the borders of Slovakia and Hungary, has a multicultural history. For a long time the region around Uzhhorod was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, later the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After WWI, it was annexed to Czechoslovakia. In 1938, Uzhhorod was transferred to Hungary, and in 1945 it was annexed by the Soviet Union. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the city became a regional capital in Ukraine. Before the wars, Hungarians made up the majority of the inhabitants, followed by Slovaks, Germans, Rusyns (Ukrainians), Czechs. Today Ukrainians make up the majority of the population, but there is still a Hungarian population.
On a visit to Zakarpattia last year, I found two great ghosts signs in Uzhhorod. Both of them are probably from the 1930s, when Uzhhorod was part of Czechoslovakia. During those years, both Hungarian and Czech would have been used for signage. It is p…

Pre-Soviet Advertising Columns

A handful of pre-Soviet (I'm guessing Austrian-era, so pre-WWI) advertising columns are still found in the center of Lviv. These are still used for their original purpose – to post concert and theater announcements.

Bannack Ghost Town in Montana

My sister recently visited a ghost town in Montana called Bannack. The town was founded in 1862 and was the site of a major gold discovery. Today sixty historic structures remain standing in the town. The last residents left in the 1970s. A ghost sign remains on the ghost hotel. (Photo credit goes to my sister, Adrienne Kovalsky.)

NPR: Architectural Ghosts Of Detroit's Past

A few weeks ago NPR posted on its photoblog a picture show with photos from the 100 Abandoned Houses project, which documents abandonment in Detroit. "These beautiful architectural portraits are the ghosts of Detroit's past."

Prewar Glass Signage

Few pre-WWII windows with signage remain – not surprisingly as glass is the most fragile of all remnants of the past. Windows were (and are still) used for street names and building numbers, conscription numbers, names of establishments, and decorative designs.

The following are probably some of the oldest as they include both conscription numbers and buildings numbers.

The following include the street name and building number

Most likely the glass on the right-hand side used to have the word "Boże" to complete the Polish phrase "Szczęść Boże," which means "God Bless You"
In the 1920s and 1930s the third floor of this building housed the The Union of Female Teachers (Związek Nauczycielek), a humanitarian aid institution
This one is located inside, on a door leading to a stairwell. Hence, the window says "schody," which means "stairs" in Polish.
And I still haven't been able to figure out the meaning of the inscription on this wind…

Ghost Sign Vandalism

It's very sad to see ghost signs defaced. Graffiti is just one of the many threats to ghost signs. Recently I noticed that an interesting ghost sign in Lviv has been vandalized.

Pre-Soviet Street and Number Signs in Lviv

Until 1944 the majority of signage in Lviv, such as street names, was in Polish. At the onset of Soviet rule, most Polish signage was removed or covered up and streets were renamed, but fortunately some of the old street and number signs have survived in their original locations (though some of have been plastered or painted over). The remaining ones, however, are slowly disappearing as buildings are being renovated and because they are being stolen. Some have been relocated and now decorate the walls of a few cafes, in particular inside the cafe Sztuka and in the courtyard of the Polish restaurant Kupol. These old street names provide an interesting insight into the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Polish Commonwealth as the names highlight what people and events were important during those times.

Many buildings had plaques that included the street name and building number.
The ones still found today likely date to the first the 30 years of the 20th century. Since the rectangular ones rese…

Remnants of Medieval Advertising in Lviv

Medieval ads and signs have survived in and around Lviv’s Rynok Square. Usually these were metal signs or stone carvings located above entrance ways. The emblems marked the locations of guilds, workshops, stores, taverns, etc. Signs during these times used symbols as the general populace was illiterate.

Entrances to taverns were marked with lion heads, often with a bunch of grapes in its mouth.

Grapes marked the entrances to restaurants.

Emblem of a tailor’s workshop on a building on Rynok Square
Relief of Like the Evangelist (Patron of painters) – emblem of painter's workshop – located on Krakivska St.
Workshops and stores were often marked with metal signs. An iron key marking a locksmith's workshop from the 19th century still survives on a 17th-century building.

Some other signs that were used but no longer are found in Lviv are: bundle of hay marking where beer was sold; lion with a lock marking a locksmith’s workshop; a horse marking a blacksmith’s workshop; a saber mar…