We love to see you “ITILE.”
Workers started dismantling the Kentile Floors sign on Thursday night and by Friday morning the beloved Gowanus landmark was without its “K,” “E,” and most of its “N,” but the remaining characters will shine one last time tonight. The torn down letters are now headed for a warehouse owned by the Gowanus Alliance, a pro-business group, but so far no one has stepped up to adopt the sign permanently and no one knows where or if it might stand again. If it does get reassembled, it might not be recognizable as the icon F train riders and Gowanus Expressway drivers know so well, the Alliance said.
“The new frame’s design may differ from today’s sign in its construction or size,” said a statement on the Alliance’s website. “[But] the overall goal is to retain this sign in the Gowanus not to absolutely duplicate it.”
The sign’s owner Ely Cohen confirmed last week that the structure was coming down after a week of residents rallying to save it. Cohen struck a deal with Councilman Brad Lander (D–Gowanus) and the Alliance to help preserve the sign. Workers are lowering the letters by pulley, according to sign booster Stephen Savage.
The red neon of the letters has not worked for years, but, before the letters started to come down, a group of artists had made plans to illuminate the sign with projected words and images tonight. The Gowanus group Vanderbilt Republic will carry on as planned, starting at dusk this evening, according to its founder George DelBarrio.
DelBarrio stares at the sign from his office window and said he will miss it, but not Kentile’s toxic asbestos tiles.
“Nobody looks at it more than I do,” DelBarrio said. “But artists are building a new identity of Gowanus that far outshines anything to do with asbestos tiles.”
Last illumination of the Kentile Floors sign (Ninth Street at Second Avenue in Gowanus, www.vander