Earlier this week, rumors started circulating that the half a century-old Kentile Floors sign in Gowanus was at risk of being torn down. Luckily, Gothamist dispelled those nasty rumors by extracting a statement of denial from the owners of the factory building on which it stands. But the sheer possibility of losing the iconic steel billboard?which blasts the name of a tile company that bragged about its asbestos-containing products and went bankrupt in the 90s?invoked waves of fear and nostalgia from Brooklynites and others. The fact that it's safe (for now), to be honest, kind of made us feel all warm and fuzzy on this chilly Friday.
A quick Flickr search turns up dozens of artsy shots, revealing the scores of people who appreciate its industrial decrepitude?despite the fact that the sign's own Facebook page has a small but passionate army of 160 "likes." There are other inklings of fandom, though. For one, a newly launched walking tour that introduces attendees to products made in Gowanus highlights the sign. There are even unabashedly hipster T-shirts for sale online (above) that celebrate its old-school vibe.
The history of Kentile Floors itself, founded in 1898, may not be the most illustrious (remember the asbestos bit?), but it sure is old. But the fact remains that it, along with other similar billboards, are almost universally adored by city residents. The Times includes the Kentile sign with the likes of the now-protected yellow Domino sugar logo on the side of its former factory in Williamsburg, the adorably dated Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City, and the Eagles Clothes sign, also in Gowanus. It's very difficult for a sign to be landmarked if the building to which it's affixed is nothing special, so let's just hope that the landlords below the eight-story Kentile Floors goliath like it as much as we do.