Stumbling Across a Ghost Sign in Downtown Brooklyn

Photo by Susan De Vries


If you take a close look at the sidewalk while wandering down Bridge Street in Downtown Brooklyn you should be able to spot a ghost of the street’s retail past.

Faded, but still legible in front of 397 Bridge Street is the shadow of what looks like a circa 1930s era sign on the sidewalk declaring “Hanover / Cut Rate Drugs / Luncheonette.” The building itself dates to circa 1908. The nine-story reinforced concrete structure was designed to provide well-lit business lofts above and a commercial space on the ground floor. An early tenant was The Robert Graves Company, manufacturers of wallpaper.

ghost sign on bridge street

By at least 1929, the ground floor commercial space was home to Hanover Drug, a local chain with several shops in Downtown Brooklyn. According to period advertisements in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the stores were “a good place to eat” and had table service and music. Mentions for this location, known by the address 399 Bridge Street, appear through the early 1950s.

397 bridge street

The tax photo from circa 1940 shows a street packed with small businesses. A glimpse of the Hanover Drug storefront sign can be seen in photos of the adjoining buildings on the block.

The sidewalk sign from the past has survived a recent renovation of the building. The property sold in 2015 for $14.7 million and plans were filed for a renovation, including conversion of the building from storage lofts to offices. The former Hanover Drug space is currently unoccupied.

[Photos by Susan De Vries]

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