OK, so they're not secret symbols of the Illuminati; they're actually much cooler. Back in the days before internet pop-up ads and stadium naming rights, one of the best ways to market your product, service or store was to paint a big freakin' sign on the side of a building. Forgotten NY has a page full of these ads.
Surprisingly, a few of these old-school ads have actually survived on some buildings right here in Stamford. Check out my pictures -- and feel free to email me if you have vintage pictures of them or if you know of any that I missed.
On the side of 109 Atlantic Street, where
Uncle Dai's Precious Dynasty inhabits the ground floor, is an ad for the "something" Candy Co. All I can make out is that they sold ice cream for 5 cents.
Just to the left of that ad is a very faint remnant of the Coca-Cola logo.
This sign on the side of 84 West Park Place is so faded that all I can make out is "Stamford House" (?) across the top and an H and a U between the windows. Any guesses?
On the side of the old Advocate building at 258 Atlantic Street is an ad for the Stamford Advocate, naturally. (You can just make out the "-ATE" in Advocate.) Incidentally, this building is for sale for the low, low price of $4.5 million.
According to the Atlantic Street railroad bridge, the safest place in Connecticut is 3000 Summer Street, which I hope is true since it's the home of José Grant Jewelry.
And finally, here's my favorite set of painted signs.
This is the old home of the Pacific Plumbing & Heating Supply Company on Pacific Street in the South End. Right on the front of the building, the company name is painted under that big arch.
On the north side of the building you'll find this fading beauty. It looks like there are several signs painted over each other, with the most prominent one advertising Schleicher & Sons' High Grade something...
A view of the other side of the building reveals that this was once a piano factory! This is a very cool sign, and it's very well-preserved.
A closer look at some of the details reveals that they actually made player pianos. How cool is that? The only link I could find about the Schleicher family is this thread on a Genealogy.com message board.
In the top left corner, you can see an even more faded sign for The Pacific Plumbing Company. That would make Pacific Plumbing even older than the player piano factory!
As a little bonus, here's a shot of another relic of the past:
These are spots on Elm Street near I-95 where the pavement has been worn away all the way down to the brick. I can't even begin to guess at how old these bricks must be.
Bonus #2: While I was working on this post, The Times wrote this article about NYC's fading ads. You can see these all over the city or at these cool sites:
Fading Ad Blog
14to42.net, which features this awesome example: 33rd Street.