For more than 20 years photographer Frank Jump has been documenting New York’s fading ads. Slowly vanishing signs of yesteryear, the building ads are ephemera that has stubbornly persisted in our constantly changing urban landscape, in defiance of development, decay and all the other challenges conspiring against them. The most common term for such remnants is ghost signs, but Mr. Jump prefers fading ads. “I never felt comfortable with the word ghost,” he says. “I don’t really believe in ghosts.”
While some may see such remnants of the past as manifestations of loss, Mr. Jump sees them metaphors for survival. “Like myself, many of these ads have long outlived their expected lifespan,” he explained in a recent interview. In 1986, at the age of 26, Mr. Jump was diagnosed with HIV and told that he had a few good years left. Despite the discouraging prognosis, a decade later he was finishing his long-postponed college degree when he saw a massive, faded sign for Omega Oil at 145th Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard.
Mr. Jump describes the Omega Oil sign as a moment of discovery that awakened “a love of the urban mystery.” And an obsession with documenting the signs that had, either through chance or accident, outlived the products that they were painted on the sides of buildings to sell. Since 1999, Mr. Jump has been sharing his signature photographs, as well stories of the products they sold and the buildings that they graced, on his Fading Ads blog. Earlier this year he published Fading Ads of New York City, his first book on the subject, although he is adamant that it will not be his last. Read More