Saturday, February 21, 2015

Wallet Card at a privilege sign at the Starlite Deli

In the last couple of years I have become very interested in pictures of New York from the 1950s-1980s, a time where everything is somewhat familiar but also somewhat different, almost like an alternate reality. My favorite find so far has been a YouTube video called A Walk Through New York City in 1968. In 1968 for a student film someone took a movie camera and walked all the from Battery Park up Sixth Avenue all the way to Central Park. It was filmed to be seen in fast motion for about two minutes but someone slowed it down so that you can clearly see each block. If you are familiar with New York it really is fascinating to watch.

One thing that struck me watching the video was that you would see on every couple of blocks a luncheonette, pizza place, bar, etc., with a big Pepsi-Cola sign. I included some screen caps below to give you an idea. I did some research and it turns out they were called privilege signs, and they were given to stores around the country by Pepsi, Coke, 7-Up etc - free advertising in exchange for them buying a sign.

In the 1960s they were still very common across the country, but by the end of the 1970s they started being seen as old-fashioned and most of them disappeared. There are still a few holdouts today - keep an eye out for them in your neighborhood.

One New York-area privilege sign still exists in, of all places, Times Square, where little remains from before the 1990s. Unfortunately when I stopped by the Starlite Deli there was a scaffolding, but I got underneath to get a good picture of the sign.
I think privilege signs are my new obsession - I am keeping my eye out for them wherever I go, and would love to find out about others that are still in existence.

Here are just a few screen caps from the video, you can see a ton of them if you watch the whole thing.

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