Winner 2021 Independent Publishers Book Awards


From Schiffer Books

"Ghost signs remind us of long-gone times, reminding us all that this (our time) too shall pass. In capturing and preserving these images, Frank Mastropolo has created an invaluable documentation of New York's history before it (literally) fades away. A must-buy for any history buff!"—Kevin Jennings, President, Lower East Side Tenement Museum


"New York’s rich history of its changing neighborhoods is well-documented, but what Mastropolo has done is take a new twist. By using the backdrop of ghost signs—those of the past and those remaining—he has created a unique and more personalized storyline street by street, business by business. His book can be enjoyed by many audiences."—Tod Swormstedt, Founder, American Sign Museum


"Mastropolo treats his oft-forgotten subjects with wonder and respect. This book is a charming tribute to New York's built fabric, and one that nurtures the deeply human story at the heart of all our city's historic streets."—Chelsea Dowell, Director of Public Engagement, Museum at Eldridge Street


"Ghost Signs feeds the yearning all New Yorkers share to leave our mark on this ever-changing metropolis, a shout to the future that we were here. If you've ever squinted up at a fading message from the past, pick up this book. Frank Mastropolo has solved their mysteries for us."—Dean Karayanis, The History Author Show, iHeart Radio


"Ghost Signs is a thrilling visual tour of the iconic nineteenth and early twentieth century signs hiding in plain sight above New York's doorways, underfoot on sidewalks, and on building facades. Mastropolo brings these signs out of the shadows and provides historical context that will charm and fascinate anyone interested in peeling back the layers of the contemporary city."—Esther Crain, author of The Gilded Age in New York, 1870-1910 and founder of Ephemeral New York


New York City's oldest neighborhoods are downtown, where scores of timeworn ads have improbably survived for decades. These "ghost signs" hold the secrets of businesses and products that vanished decades ago. Clues to our jobs, schools, places of worship, cafes, and concert halls lurk in their faded outlines.

Journalist and photographer Frank Mastropolo brings more than 100 of these signs to life through insightful commentary on the history of downtown's distinct neighborhoods and the eclectic businesses that anchored them during the first half of the 20th century. The collection offers an important and timely look at New York City's rich economic and social fabric, especially today, when long-established businesses are rapidly being priced out of their neighborhoods.

Mastropolo, winner of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, writes a series about the city's faded ads for New York magazine's Bedford+Bowery.

In Cincinnati, visit the American Sign Museum shop or order online

Order online and available at select Barnes & Noble stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn

Available online from Amazon, Schiffer Books and other fine booksellers

Ghost Signs: Clues to Downtown New York's Past in the Press

Fox5 New York (Video)

"Ghost Signs' Tell the History of NYC's Businesses


NYC's Past Lives On in the Ghost Signs of Downtown Manhattan

New York magazine's Bedford+Bowery

"New Book Reveals Downtown Ghost Signs Hiding in Plain Sight"

Untapped New York

"The Ghost Signs of NYC: Uncover the Secrets to NYC's Past in New Book"

The Village Sun

"Downtown's Ghost Signs Come to Life in New Book"

Tribeca Citizen

"Seen & Heard: The Neighborhood's Ghost Signs Explained"

Lower East Side Preservation Initiative (LESPI)

"Ghost Signs" Reveal the Lower East Side's Commercial Past

Schiffer Publishing (Video)

Ghost Signs of Downtown New York

Ghost Signs Virtual Tour

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Music: Interstellar Space by John Bartmann

© 2019 Frank Mastropolo