Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Soylent Purple?

This is going to be a quick one.  I've been home sick from work, which means being both bored and not terribly motivated, which seemed like a good time to put up this sign.  It's not paint.  It's not technically a ghost. But I liked the combination of the aging painted metal sign and the aging metal alarm.

A Yahoo user says Global Surplus Machinery is a scientist's dream, filled with both good stuff and junk.  This is a pretty cool picture of the place from behind during twilight.  Otherwise, the place doesn't seem to have much of a footprint on the interwebs.

The alarm is from Viking.  I guess that's probably this one.  But maybe it's this one.  At least it isn't this one.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Less Cute Than A Baby Polar Bear

I'd seen this one on other blogs, but not been able to find it.  Then I decided that, as a good Minneapolitan (??), I needed to stop in and visit the Electric Fetus, our local iconic record store.  Of course, as soon as I walked in listening to a podcast on my iPhone, I realized that there really isn't anything I want to buy at a record store.  But if you're the type of person who buys music on discs (digital or vinyl), or you're interested in other gifts and funky merchandise, you should go.  I didn't buy anything.

But the trip wasn't wasted.  I got a little exercise, and on the way out, bam, there is the sign.  I'm so proud.  I rock.

So, Knudson's Department Store, as Mr. Lileks points out (link above), wasn't very big.  The building houses a good sized record store for today, but big box it is not.  I've not been able to find much the sign's retailer, although someone included it in their neighborhood scavenger hunt (pdf).  It's now right next to the freeway, so maybe its history disappeared under the concrete with the rest of the surrounding commercial district.

And, of course, it's another Scandinavian last name, so there is a lot of noise in the search results.  Obligatory Flickr link here.

Finally, as far as I know, this has nothing to do with the sign, but how could I not bring you a photo of someone named Knud Knudson?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Foreign Lands: Money Is A Ball

So my re-commitment to the mission didn't last long, but what can I say?  I went into my archive of backlogged Minneapolis signs and wasn't inspired, so it's back to strange and mysterious land of St. Paul.

Minnesotans of a certain age will remember Norwest, which was acquired by Wells Fargo in 1997.  Before there was a consolidated Norwest, Northwestern National Bank was the anchor of a multi-state bank affiliation that dated to the 1920s that helped its members survive the great depression.

I may be wrong, but in my memory Norwest was the first bank in the Twin Cities to offer free checking, which makes me remember it fondly (low bar for positive bank feelings, eh?).  The Norwest logo used to be a common site around town.

As to less common sites, Norwest's "weatherball" in downtown Minneapolis is too good not to include.  I don't have any memory of it, but apparently they had a 157 foot tower on the top of their headquarters, which was largest bank sign between Chicago and the west coast (do you think people stopped to see it after checking out the largest ball of twine?).  At the top was a color-changing ball that would give you a primitive weather forecast.  Minnesotans love a good weather prediction, so the ball grew in popularity until it became central to the bank's marketing (check him out lounging on the beach in the first link of this paragraph).  It was actually popular enough to prompt a local news report in 2007.

Alas, the ball went down with the rest of the bank's headquarters in a destructive fire on Thanksgiving day in 1982.

You can see another shot of the sign on Flickr.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Insert Ole & Lena Joke Here

I've been holding on to this one for awhile, because I've haven't been able to find much to say about it.  I rather like it, I guess because of the nice combination of fading and legibility.  I drove  by the other day and was reminded that I hadn't posted it yet.

For obvious reasons, "Erickson" isn't exactly an uncommon last name in Minnesota and there are any number of decorators out there with that name, so Google hasn't been that much help.  This person apparently worked there, calling it "prestigious," and apparently worked on the IDS tower while there.  If you're into that sort of thing, you can take a look at the building's environmental history here (I have no idea why you would want to).  It's already been on Flickr here.

It's on Nicollet Ave. between 27th & 28th Street, on the side of what is now Rainbow Chinese Restaurant & Bar.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Not That #2

I feel like I've been straying from the mission a bit too much lately (what's up with all those foreign signs, eh?), so let's get back to it.  We're in Minneapolis again, and we have an honest-to-goodness ghost sign.  And as an added bonus, we get to see a little glimmer of summertime blue sky and green leaves.

This building is veritably wrapped in signage on all sides (see below), but I put the best one up top.  It's on the southeast side of the building, and under the "for lease" sign you can see that it says "Cameron Transfer & Storage Co." who were agents of Allied Van Lines (a brand now owned by Sirva, which brings up professional memories I will keep to myself).

It turns out that I found much more than I expected about this building and about Cameron.  It seems that Schafer Richardson has (or had) plans to redevelop the site and claims that the building was built in the early 1900s and is eligible for the National Register of historic places.

The company name seems to come from Carlisle Cameron, a Canadian-born businessman who took over what sounds like a carting business in here in 1884 and was still at it 42 years later.  It seems the company was active in something called the Central Warehouseman's Club in the early 1920s. Now that sounds like an antitrust problem waiting to happen.

At least one other blog has shared the more generic signage on the opposite side of the building.  One has to wonder both how you make storage truly fire-proof, and just how rampant fires must have been at the time to make avoiding it such a popular point of advertising.

The business also shows up in a Minnesota Supreme Court decision from 1910.  It seems that someone made the foolish decision to remove their goods from the fire-safe premises of Mr. Cameron and lost them to a fire on a train.  Tsk, tsk.

Others have posted this building to Flickr here and here.