The Kentile Sign and Urban Memory

Kentile Sign

(The Kentile Sign, Gowanus, Brooklyn. Image from The New York Times, 2014)

The Kentile Sign in Brooklyn is about to be disassembled and relocated to a yet-to-be determined Spot. A sign, it seems, has become a lightning rod of discourse surrounding its role in the larger cultural context which is Our Urban Memory. These signifiers of nostalgia run deep, and in cases like this, cause discord (as Kentile was the maker of Asbestos tiling). To some, it is merely the passing of an era, not to be mourned or remembered. Life presses on.

A series of articles have chronicled the fate of the sign in the New York Times. One talks factually about its fate, and can be found Here.

Another off-written article in The Times, about Nostalgia’s blurring glow, attempts to peg the sign in some sort of fading light of History’s forgotten past. Highbrow in its perspective, it still asks the question of whether our society’s energies can be better spent over the mere preservation of a Sign (say, housing for example, or the environment).

Nonetheless, and arguments aside, The Sign is coming down. It was a stalwart marker within the Urban Memory of The Greatest Generation. It will be resurrected once again in a new place and a new era, to be consumed as a prop in the most fascinating stage set of the World, Ole’ New York.



  1. Enjoying your blog, Greg. This latest post (re: Kentile sign) brings to mind another sign which is causing some discord in the Windy City: the TRUMP sign (what else?)

    1. Thanks for your comments Dave and very happy you are enjoying! I did read about the Trump sign – it seems to be another brash branding exercise. It’s sad to see this sign here in NY go away because, as others have noted, it is a piece of art unto itself.

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