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Ghost Sign Stories: Photographer Frank Jump Is Haunted By New York’s ‘Fading Ads’ By Kim Velsey – New York Observer

The Omega Oil sign, on Frederick Douglas and 145th, that started it all. (Courtesy Frank Jump)

For more than 20 years photographer Frank Jump has been documenting New York’s fading ads. Slowly vanishing signs of yesteryear, the building ads are ephemera that has stubbornly persisted in our constantly changing urban landscape, in defiance of development, decay and all the other challenges conspiring against them. The most common term for such remnants is ghost signs, but Mr. Jump prefers fading ads. “I never felt comfortable with the word ghost,” he says. “I don’t really believe in ghosts.”

While some may see such remnants of the past as manifestations of loss, Mr. Jump sees them metaphors for survival. “Like myself, many of these ads have long outlived their expected lifespan,” he explained in a recent interview. In 1986, at the age of 26, Mr. Jump was diagnosed with HIV and told that he had a few good years left. Despite the discouraging prognosis, a decade later he was finishing his long-postponed college degree when he saw a massive, faded sign for Omega Oil at 145th Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard. – CLICK HERE TO READ MORE


  1. Laura De Ponte says:

    Great project! I always regretted not photographing the fading sign that was on the side of the stairwell at Chambers Street on the then IRT line (1, 2, 3):
    “FOR TOILETS use last two stairs at end of platform”
    Always made me laugh and I watched it simply fade away from 1970 through many years. Of course, many people took it literally at the time….

    1. fadingad says:

      LOL! Ah, the wild 70s.

  2. Laura De Ponte says:

    It read “For Toilets Use last two stairs at North End of Platform”
    –more specifically. See? I should’ve taken that shot…. They fade within the memory, too. Precious…

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