My eyes were gliding over the charisma-free face of upper Broadway between Columbia Circle and Lincoln Square—a blank, spirit-robbing wall of glass and metal—when they fell on this bit of skyline. The old Empire Hotel, roof signs intact.
The city used to have hundreds of these sort of simple, skyward advertisements. (Another classic, surviving example is the Essex House on Central Park South, below. Picture courtesy of Restless.) I suppose that, sometime around the start of the last century, they were considered vulgar. But, today I think their charm is quite clear. They puncture the blandness of the straight, cold cityscape, add a bit of variety and visual excitement. Signs such as this are both simple and grand. I wonder why hotels don't make use of this sort of option anymore. Too expensive, perhaps. Or maybe they mistakenly think them to be too old-fashioned. Or maybe nobody knows how to make these kind of signs anymore; the craftsmen are dead.
Can anyone out there think of any others that survive besides the Essex and Empire?