Oldsmobile of Flatbush

I love traveling down Flatbush Ave past Prospect Park because there’s so much history to find hidden on every block. I noticed this Oldsmobile ghost sign (ghost sign: a business sign remaining from a long defunct business) at the corner of Avenue D and Flatbush above a liquor store:

Oldsmobile 01

God knows how long ago this was put in, but I’m guessing at least 50 years. Was there an Oldsmobile dealership on or near this spot? Or was it just a neon advertisement to interest Flatbush passersby?

Oldsmobile 02

Also: why does the clock on the reverse side have “By” written above it?

Oldsmobile 03

Were you able to get an Oldsmobile “by” the time on the clock? Or maybe the clock once had the business owner’s name on it. It’s doubtful, but I’ll have to drive by some time at night to see if this still lights up.


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  1. I think there may have been a “by” on the other side as well — I also think the two holes on the bottom of each side probably once held the answer to your question. They look like holes for neon tubing.

    Love the blog! I look forward to every post.

  2. Hey, I live in Flatbush! Love your blog and loved that you featured my neighborhood. More please. I don’t know that much history about it.

  3. It looks like there also may have been more tubing under the clock? There are the same holes that the “By” tubing comes out of running along the very bottom edge. So maybe it was something like “By Blank” around the clock?

  4. Your blog is amazing (very original comment, I know). It’s wonderful to see such interesting, rarely seen parts of the city that we all love so much!

  5. Long time ago, I used to see outdoor clocks which said “Time By Bulova”, where the word Bulova was on the clock face. Bulova made clocks and watches, of course. I wonder if it was some kind of joint-marketing deal? I can’t see the clock face clearly in that picture.

  6. Oldsmobile was once commonly marketed as “Oldsmobile by GM”, so I suspect the holes on the bottom that others pointed out once held “GM”.

  7. RE the vintage Oldsmobile sign with the clock- back in de day, the Bulova Watch Company would advertise their wares but displayng the Bulova name on advertising clock faces. So, perhaps the sign used to reqd: “Oldsmobile by:” (then the clock face marked with the word’ ‘Bulova”.

    Love your website, it’s fascinating and your research, images and writing is stellar.

  8. Gaines Motors Co. Inc. was an Oldsmobile dealer. 1217-1219 Flatbush Ave, tel BU4-3300.

  9. Mark the Brown Street Boy

    It was Gaines Oldsmobile owned by a guy named Jack Schwartz and I used to work for them.

  10. i worked for gaines 74 to 75 at service on eramus st iwas a bmech and getready man i rem,ber jack he was my boss the sign was a small olds showroom it held maybe 3 cars i my freind would like to take down the sign and put it on his shop in si neil

  11. please repl ond to my post i would like to talk to anbody that worked there

  12. i would like totalk to guys that worked for jack

  13. Wow…this is truly amazing! Great post!!!!