One of my first posts when I started this blog three years ago was a tribute to the Kentile Floors sign that once graced the Gowanus skyline, rising above Second Avenue at 8th Street. The last letters disappeared in early July of 2014; coming home on the F train hasn’t been the same since.
The sign is gone, and Kentile floor coverings themselves are even longer gone, but you can still buy a “Mens Kentile Floors T Shirt in Rust Orange” from Livepoultry designs for $28 on Etsy. Or, for $20, a DIY model kit made from chipboard (“a 100% recycled material”) by Boundless Brooklyn.
Or you can seek out tributes on walls around the borough – from the walls of the luxury condo developments that have replaced manufacturing enterprises, to walls shadowed by public housing projects where former manufacturing workers and their children and grandchildren, employed in other sectors or not at all, live.
The image at the top of this page, across from the Gowanus Houses, is my personal favorite. Another went up recently, on this condo conversion on 9th street.
And then there’s this, by the Whole Foods at Third and 3rd.
Rumor has it that the letters, now in storage, may be reunited in a new playground proposed for some of the dead space below the F/G tracks at Third Avenue. That would be . . . nice. It’s certainly a better fate than being auctioned off to private buyers, as seemed a possibility for a time. We could all see them again (albeit in a diminished state, no longer nearly so impressive without their brawny backdrop), and I’m sure they’ll be a hit with the kids.
A part of me wonders, though, if it wouldn’t be more fitting, and more dignified, to simply let them go.
(A side note of thanks to everyone who expressed concern about my broken arm. The fracture is healing nicely, and while I still can’t run – creating a serious challenge for this blog, since so much of its content is gathered on my runs, or at least inspired by them – I can write, type, dress myself, tie my own shoes, cook, do light cleaning and even, very recently, raise my binoculars to eye level.)