Vintage Stores with Permanently Inlaid Sidewalk Logos?
May 19, 2009 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Vintage Stores with Permanently Inlaid Sidewalk Logos?

Q: What changed that used to allow stores to do that? Ownership of the building? You tend not to see it anymore.

I was coming out of a store on the main strip in Santa Barbara last month when I noticed there was a vintage-looking store logo inlaid into the sidewalk. And it was to a now forgotten store - not the current one.

Here is an example I just found via Google

I think that would make an interesting photo collection: photos of long-closed stores, confident in their long term future, remembered now only by the inlaid logo in their entranceway sidewalk.

Anyone have such a photo?

Next time I see a case like that I'll take a snapshot, myself. I think at the very least it would make an interesting flickr group.
posted by jfrancis to Society & Culture (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Anyone have such a photo?

It's kind of cut off, but it actually says Madison's. There's a huge sign on the building, too. The whole building is kind of gutted now.
posted by Juliet Banana at 2:42 PM on May 19, 2009

Since sidewalks are often public space, I'd guess that local authorities and the public used to be friendlier to the stores. The large chain stores that tend to predominate now would probably be especially unwelcome to advertise in the sidewalk. Even temporary projected ads are questionable.
posted by exogenous at 2:45 PM on May 19, 2009

there are a lot of these in downtown los angeles. here's a set of them.

if i remember correctly, there is a new piece (< 5 years old) outside of the santa fe lofts at 6th and main. i suspect that cost is one of the biggest reasons that people don't put in new ones.
posted by jimw at 2:45 PM on May 19, 2009

That's cool. :)

The funny thing about the Santa Barbara example was it was, if I recall, a little place, like an old shoe store, and not a big place like a Macy's or Gimbel's Herald Square kind of thing. So even the little guys were not, I guess, tenants.

Or if they were tenants, was renovating the sidewalk part of the cost of being a tenant - or owner?
posted by jfrancis at 2:48 PM on May 19, 2009

jimw - great photos :)
posted by jfrancis at 2:49 PM on May 19, 2009

exogenous - very interesting about the projectors
posted by jfrancis at 2:51 PM on May 19, 2009

The example given in the OP and the examples I've personally seen are actually part of the entrance way to the store, and not part of the public sidewalk. That is, the main entrance to the store is set on a sort of inlet, with the display windows on either side being flush to the sidewalk. It is the approach set inside of both sets of display windows that traditionally had the store name inset (I've seen it at old Woolworth and Kresge stores that were located blocks of stores situated in downtown areas). I have a feeling that larger department stores such as the original Macy's and Gimble's in NYC had similar entryway markings. I have no data to support it, but my theory is that back when such stores planted their markers in the entryway, they were staunch old corporations with a longtime legacy that never foresaw bankruptcy or corporate buyouts, or the trend of downtown shops boarding up and moving to suburban malls. For example, Woolworth was a fixture in most downtown shopping districts beginning the late 1800s and remained so until the late 1960s when they started moving to malls. So it was traditionally a sign of a venerable old shopping institution to have the store name inlaid in the pavement.
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:15 PM on May 19, 2009

There is a Flickr group - Terrazo Floors!
posted by chez shoes at 3:16 PM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Not to derail, but is there a term for the similar phenomenon found on the sides of buildings?
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 3:22 PM on May 19, 2009

punchdrunkhistory, are you thinking of Ghost Signs?
posted by chez shoes at 3:46 PM on May 19, 2009

Last year, I came upon this on the edge of crumbling parking lot in D.C. It looks to be part of a larger, still buried entryway graphic for a long-since-demolished shop.
posted by ryanshepard at 3:55 PM on May 19, 2009

Didn't somebody record and map every ghost sign in Manhattan he could find?
posted by jfrancis at 4:02 PM on May 19, 2009

If I can slip in an off topic question: does anyone know the name of those upright bullet-shaped stones that flank the bottom sides of firehouse gateways and any other doorways through which horse-drawn carriages used to pass?

They protect the doorway edges from axel strikes and deflect the wheels back on course.
posted by jfrancis at 4:17 PM on May 19, 2009

posted by jfrancis at 4:19 PM on May 19, 2009

Corner guards?

I think there's a couple reasons why you don't see graphics inlaid into sidewalks so much anymore. The labor and maintenance are expensive and with so many stores owned by conglomerates you just don't see that pride in place anymore. It's not worth it to anyone in the business to do that. Also, most of these conglomerates have ugly branding and no sense of design. In the old school days, you'd hire a guy to create that sidewalk art and he'd create his own typeface just for your store to represent you in a style befitting the age. People just don't do that anymore. And people in cities and those who are in charge of design reviews do not trust stores to put down something that isn't ugly. And they're right. They can claim right-of-way and move on without having to go down the path of regulating beauty and craft.

but, perhaps I'm just feeling a bit cynical these days
posted by amanda at 5:10 PM on May 19, 2009

A few thoughts:

1.) Storefronts, when built new, want to capitalize on space. In other words, the space devoted to a fancy logo can actually be walled up and made into inventory space.

2.) Municipalities are much more restrictive on land use and signage nowadays. It's unlikely many towns would grant right of way to any business wanting to advertise in such a manner. It would have to be on the business's property (see point #1) and even then may not fit the signage codes for a given zone.
posted by wfrgms at 5:48 PM on May 19, 2009

I live near downtown Santa Barbara, and now I'm going to look at the sidewalks more often to find the place you're talking about.

The entrance to Tartine Bakery in San Francisco also has an old name in the floor: a picture.
posted by dreamyshade at 6:41 PM on May 19, 2009

Many times you do see very old brass plaques inlaid in the public sidewalks. These were placed by the sidewalk contractor to identify their work and was actually required by some municipalities. Although this practice has been dropped in favor of the much cheaper stamping method there are still some instances of new walk in business districts inlaid with a contractor plaque.
posted by JJ86 at 6:55 PM on May 19, 2009

chez shoes, that's a good term! I'm thinking more like this than the upright, freestanding signs found elsewhere in the pool, however.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 7:09 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can't find many photos, but some of the shops on State Street in Doylestown, PA have small tiles with the shop name and some representative icons (e.g. a camera for the camera shop, I believe). Doylestown is the home of Henry Mercer, famous for his tiles, hence their use. Here's one photo I found from La Maison Cheese.
posted by LolaGeek at 8:10 PM on May 19, 2009

amanda - are they called corner guards? I'm talking about the white 'bullets' on the ground flanking the doorways in this photo.
posted by jfrancis at 10:26 PM on May 19, 2009

Yeah, I've seen those. The last building I worked on (a 1920s-era building) had those as well. It was a delivery depot and started out with horse-drawn carts going in and out of big bays. We called them corner guards. Occasionally someone would call them "bollards" but I think of bollards as free-standing. If the old guys had a better name for them (they probably did) then I don't know it.
posted by amanda at 7:07 AM on May 20, 2009

punchdrunkhistory - looks like that Ghost Signs Flickr pool is a bit "anything goes." What you've linked to is definitely a ghost sign :) The upright signs in the pool are just, well - old signs.
posted by chez shoes at 3:08 PM on May 22, 2009

This LA theater is closed. Wonder what will happen to that floor?
posted by jfrancis at 11:33 AM on July 13, 2009

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