23 Jul 2012

Vote Against Prohibition Ghostsign in Baltimore

Fading hand painted sign on a building in Baltimore
Photo: Samuel Adam Johnson

This is the first ever example from the modern era that I’ve come across of hand painted advertising on buildings used for political purposes. There are the ancient ghostsigns of Pompeii which I’ve written about before and also the murals of places like Nicaragua and Northern Ireland. This photo from Samuel Adam Johnson caught my eye as a piece of political advertising on a specific piece of legislation and provoked a few related thoughts:

  • The sign can be dated to the prohibition era, 1920-1933, making it at least 79 years old.
  • It is in Baltimore, home of HBO series The Wire which features an experiment in relaxing the laws on the sale of prohibited drugs and the subsequent impact on lowering other crime.
  • I came across the picture in the same week that the Government in the UK published a report with recommendations to further restrict the advertising of alcohol in an attempt to curb ‘binge’ drinking.

Also a couple of questions:

  • Who was this advertising targeted at? Who was having a vote on this issue?
  • What other ghostsigns exist that promote political ends or lobbying in this way?

Answers in the comments please.

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