2. Lerner Shops, 478 Seventh Avenue

Lerner Shops carved ghost sign in Manhattan

“The Lerner Shops — they are in every important neighborhood in New York and in all other Eastern cities — know the coming mode just a little ahead of most other shops,” read a 1922 ad in the New York Evening World. “To carry styles that are at all times in the forefront of fashion — to have them just a little sooner than everyone else — and to keep them always in the pink of freshness — that is the Lerner policy.”

Lerner Shops was founded in 1918 by Samuel A. Lerner and Harold M. Lane in New York City. From its start as blouse manufacturer, Lerner Shops became a popular chain of women’s wear stores. Eighteen more shops opened that year.

In 1928 Lerner moved to 478 Seventh Avenue in the expanding Garment District as millinery and apparel businesses migrated uptown from Broadway below Houston Street. Daytonian in Manhattan explains that bail bondsmen, then an unsavory occupation, moved into the former residential building. A restaurant on the second floor serving liquor was raided by Federal prohibition officers in December 1926.

A carved sign for Lerner Shops on the side of a stone building next to other decorative carvings including a head with a helmet

Lerner Shops renovated the building and opened a retail store on the ground floor. The front of the building was redesigned with a medieval theme that includes stone heads across the parapet. Exquisite coats of arms are mounted on either side of the roofline.

Lerner only remained in the building for two years but left behind its elaborate ghost signs. By 1985, Lerner was an 823-store chain and was acquired by The Limited. In 1992, the company changed its name to Lerner New York. The company changed its name again to New York & Company, or NY&C, in 1995.