Ghost Signs in Davenport

A couple of Sundays ago, we took our dog for a six-mile walk that touched on the east side of downtown Davenport, where conversion of old industrial buildings into residential spaces is ongoing. We were pleased to see the reemergence of hand-painted advertising signage on the brick walls. These vintage signs are known as ghost signs.

The trend of preserving and enhancing signage was noted 10 years ago in the New York Times (November 5, 2005):

Like water tanks, vintage signs were part of the gritty landscape of old industrial cities. The decades before the Depression were their heyday, but even after printed billboards became the advertising method of choice, signs were commonly painted on buildings into the 1960s. . . .

While a century ago, preservation groups viewed the signs as vulgar interlopers, some now want to sustain them.

They seem like remnants of “a more civilized time,” Ms. Hulser [of the New York Historical Society] said.

And they were the most interesting subject matter of the day for me as a photographer.

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