SIGN OFF! Iconic Eagle Clothes sign being torn down

RIGHT NOW: The Eagle Clothes sign in Gowanus is being dismantled as you read this!
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The Eagle has crash landed!

The classic Eagle Clothes sign that has loomed over the historically industrial landscape of Gowanus for more than 60 years is being torn down as you read this.

The giant steel-framed marquee with bold red and green lettering that sits atop a rectangular shaped building on Sixth Street between Third and Fourth avenues is being dismantled because U-Haul, which owns the property, is adding two stories to the existing building.

U-Haul has used the building as a storage facility for more than 20 years and has kept the vintage advertisement that can be seen from the Gowanus Expressway and the elevated F and G train tracks intact — until now.

The truck rental company originally wanted to maintain the old Eagle sign, U-Haul project manager David Pollock told the website DNAinfo.com, which first reported the story, but that keeping the sign would make the building surpass city height limits.

Pollock said that the company will keep the signs pieces, which are remnants of the neighborhood’s industrial past, and work to integrate some of them into the building once the expansion is completed next year.

“I’ll do everything in my power to make sure we maintain the past and incorporate parts of the sign into the building,” said Pollock.

But even so, Brooklynites were sad to see the historic sign — which is not a landmark — disappear from the horizon.

“It’s artwork and there’s craftsmanship in it,” said lifelong Carroll Gardens resident Briana Deserio, who said that she feels “at home” every time she gets a glimpse of the sign when driving over the Gowanus Expressway.

“The Brooklyn skyline will be naked without it,” she said.

Gowanus resident Martin Bisi stood and watched workers on scaffolding dismantle the lettering on Wednesday.

“It’s sad to me as the sign has meant more to me in recent years as we’ve had an onslaught of new development, like on Fourth Avenue just beyond the sign and the (under construction) Whole Foods a block away,” said Bisi. “So it’s disappearing is an emotionally charged sign that it’s going to look very different here soon.”

The massive sign, which was once illuminated by neon, harkens back to a bygone era when Brooklyn was synonymous with manufacturing.

The Eagle Clothes menswear company, for which the sign was mounted, opened a plant in the Sixth Street building in 1951. The company became a popular retailer for high-end tailor-made suits, jackets, and ties through the 1970s.

Eagle Clothes filed for bankruptcy for the second and final time in 1989 and sometime in the 1980s U-Haul acquired the property.

The old Eagle sign will be completely gone in the next few days.

Last week, The Brooklyn Paper reported on the possibility of the destruction of Brooklyn’s iconic advertising, focusing on the Watchtower sign that faces the Brooklyn Bridge and lets people know the two most important things at the moment: the time and temperature.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

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