street scene brooklyn: up on the rooftop
After spotting some thought-provoking street art above a sandwich shop last week, I’ve been trying to spend less time with my eyes glued to the ground and more time looking up and around.
A few days ago something caught my eye on the roof of a nondescript building on a quiet brownstone street. The sun was setting and I couldn’t quite see, so this morning I went back to take another look.
It’s an old street sign and lamp, only visible if you’re standing in exactly the right spot. Walk half a block in either direction and it falls out of view.
Kind of mysterious, no? Like there’s a secret society up there, four stories up. A mini Brooklyn Heights of yesteryear.
I wanted to know more, so I emailed Kevin Walsh of Forgotten New York to see if he could give me any information.
He wrote back to tell me that this is an old “humpback” street sign, likely salvaged by the owner of the building. Installed all around Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx in the 1910s, these signs stood until the ’60s when they were replaced with the street signs we see today.
Sure, it’s just an old sign mounted on a rooftop. But even so, I like knowing that there’s a little bit of history up there – out of sight unless you know to look for it.