Author: Helen Cox

Helen Cox is a UK author. She made her on-screen debut in The Krankies in 1990. Given the choice, her Mastermind topic would be Grease 2 and when someone asks her if she is a god she says 'yes.' Oh, you want to know about her books? Best click some of the links below.

Fading Ads of Philadelphia (Part I)

1 Philadelphia Ghost Sign 6

Most people come to Philadelphia hoping to glimpse the Liberty Bell. Or to visit Independence Hall where they might reenact key scenes from National Treasure, and I admit there was a bit of that during my stay (any excuse to do a bad Nic Cage impression). But, given my rather unhealthy addiction to fonts and lettering, I was also taken with the various examples of faded type around the city.

1 Philadelphia Ghost Sign 7A closer look at the above ghost sign for Reedmor Books on Walnut Street reveals an illustration and a manicule pointing visitors in the right direction. Reedmor Books no longer exists but, whilst I was taking this photograph, a guy stopped to tell me he remembered the store. He bemoaned the fact that a lot of independent bookshops have shut down in Philly. One of which had been turned into a three-storey Walgreens. To quote Anya of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame: ‘It’s like evolution only without the getting better part.’ 

The nice man chatted very kindly to me for a while but when he realised he’d got into a conversation about fading signage with someone who’d written a book on the subject I saw the little light in his eyes go out. It’s the same look I saw on the faces of one or two eligible bachelors during my twenties who thought they were on a date with a care-free blonde but realised they were actually on a date with an uber-nerd who spent Friday nights researching the history of the Biro pen and organising her stationery.

In the name of British politeness I ceased reciting typographical facts and told him: ‘I must press on with my exploring.’ Walking away, I’m sure I heard just a tiny sigh of relief.

1 Philadelphia Ghost Sign 1.jpgThis signage sporting the slogan: ‘Philadelphia’s Finest Apparel Store’ is for a women’s speciality shop, founded in the 1910s by Ralph Blum.  The first one in Philadelphia opened in 1920 and was located on the corner of 13th and Chestnut. Trees are culturally and historically significant to Philadelphia and many of the streets are named after the various species.

1 Philadelphia Ghost Sign 4

I was distracted from noting which street this sign was on because in the middle of taking the picture I was asked to donate to a homeless charity. Which I did. And had a lengthy chat with the guy collecting who, like everyone I met in Philly, was ultra-friendly. From the partial type all across this building, I gleaned this was signage for an old copy / printing / photography place.

1 philadelphia Ghost Sign 5

I love the seedy sound of ‘Chicks Bar & Backroom Cafe’ (because I’m wholesome like that) but this now-closed eatery on 7th Street seems to have had several incarnations. According to its online review history, one of those incarnations was a rather classy-sounding wine bar. Not even sure they would’ve let me in wearing my trainers. Still, though the building currently seems to be between owners, this wonderful typography survives.

1 Philadelphia Ghost Sign 3

The first McDonald’s Playland was opened in California, 1973. I grew up, like most kids in 1980s Britain, idolising American, McDonald’s-infused culture. This is a little reminder of just how cuddly and child-friendly the packaging was on all those burgers; full-fat drinks and fries. So glad that twenty years later we’re not suffering an obesity crisis. Oh… wait.

If you enjoyed this post you might enjoy Fading Ads of Brooklyn and Beyond. Or my book, Fading Ads of London.

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One comment on “Fading Ads of Philadelphia (Part I)

  1. Pingback: Fading Ads of Philadelphia (Part II) | Author: Helen Cox

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This entry was posted on February 5, 2016 by in Author Blog and tagged , , , , .
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