Today we’re looking at a new book about some very old signs.

The book is called The Ghost Signs of NYC, and it’s about the signs are known as ghost signs, because they’re signs of what used to be at a location.

If you’ve ever driven past a building and seen a faded advertisement on the side of the brick, or spotted a neon sign for a restaurant where a real estate office now sits, those are ghost signs.

Author and photographer Frank Mastropolo wanted to take images of these signs before time and the elements took them away.

In most cases, historical commissions don’t preserve ghost signs.

But he says he also wanted to show how these signs have stories to tell.

For example, he found a sign from the mid-19th century for Wah Lin Chinese Laundry.

That’s interesting just on its face for hanging in there all these years. But he also points out that the laundry business started at a time when Chinese immigrants were barred from a lot of other kinds of jobs.

The sign, now outside an upscale bar, highlights an important and often overlooked part of New York history.

The book is full of these kinds of signs and stories – and Mastropolo says there’s another benefit to this kind of project: when you’re taking pictures of signs, your subjects don’t often say no to having their pictures taken.

A lot of the signs we’ve been talking about were painted on the sides of buildings, but in Alexandria, Indiana, there’s a whole lot of paint that’s been painted onto other paint.

Meet the world’s largest paint ball!

The Carmichael family in Alexandria dropped a baseball in a can of paint and then… just added to it. The ball now weighs over 4,000 pounds and has more than 23,000 layers of paint.

It’s available by appointment; follow the signs to get you to town.

The Ghost Signs of NYC: Uncover the Secrets to New York’s Past in New Book (Untapped New York)

The World’s Largest Paint Ball! 

Today’s show is a sign you should back Cool Weird Awesome on Patreon!

Photo by David Wilson via Flickr/Creative Commons