December 21, 2016

Ghost Signs of Salem, Massachusetts


Newmark's Ghost Sign on Essex Street c. 1970

The term "ghost signs" refers to now weathered, hand painted brick advertisements that were popular during the late 19th and early 20th century. In the days before digital marketing, this form of advertising was used by a variety of local and national businesses to promote their locations and products. Remnants of these signs can be seen throughout the city of Salem, Massachusetts. Though multiple ghost signs remain, many have been lost over the last century to revitalization projects, rezoning and demolition. 
             
Pillsbury Ghost Sign on Endicott Street
The most famous of these advertising signs are for Coca-Cola, many of which are still visible throughout North America. Between 1890 and 1920, an estimated 16,000 murals were painted across the United States. In 1910, a quarter of Coca-Cola's advertising budget was used solely for the creation of wall murals. 


Lost Coca-Cola Advertisement on Boston Street c. 1930

Recently, Coca-Cola launched a ghost sign revitalization project, where the company employs artists to restore their ghost signs. The project has already breathed new life into over two dozen murals, across fifteen states. 

Almy, Bigelow & Washburn Ghost Sign on New Derby Street
Beeman's Pepsin Ghost Sign on Peabody Street

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