Recent construction has revealed the ghostly remnants of an ad applied to the side of 37 Union Square West. The ornate sign, partially obscured by a window frame, was illegible on its own, but a Library of Congress image of Union Square West from 1894 shows a clearer view of the same swirly signature, which reads Sarony. Below his signature, an even fainter “Portraits” is (barely) visible. Napoleon Sarony was a Canadian-born artist and lithographer living in New York. He moved to Europe in the 1850s for formal artistic training and later learned wet plate photography from his brother, a successful commercial photographer in England. In 1866, he moved back…

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