When I lived and worked in NYC, I would be drawn to the older sections of Manhattan. Tribeca. The East Village. Even sections of Midtown. I would look for “ghost signs.” Ads that were from another time, another era, another New York City, different from the one in which I existed. I was drawn to them. The typography, the boldness, the antiquated merchandise or service they were selling.

Advertising so permanent that a century of pollution and progress haven’t been able to wipe them away. I imagine the lives of the painters, up on the scaffolds, painting their typographic letterforms with exact precision. Pioneers of typography. Truly a lost art today.

Ben Passikoff, a New York City high school student, spent his junior and senior year walking the streets of NYC, sweet-talking doormen to let him up to their roofs, and photographing ghost signs from the past. He has compiled his work into a coffee table book, “The Writing on the Wall, Economic and Historic Observations of New York’s Ghost Signs,” that is sure to be on my coffee table in the future.

More details on Ben, and his book, over at Ad Age, discovered via Brand Autopsy.