Blind Windows in Lviv

I started noticing “ghost windows” on many of Lviv’s older buildings. Originally, I thought they were windows that had at some point been bricked up. However, after researching, I discovered that in fact (at least in most cases) they are “blind windows”—architectural features that are shaped like windows but without […]

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Luxfer Vault Lights in Lviv

Many years ago in Lviv I came across what looked like a metal door matt. I had no idea what it was until I saw similar panels in Edinburgh and Tallinn and turned to the Internet for help. Turns out it is a vault light to illuminate the basement. It […]

The Vanishing Galician Accent and How it Lingers in the Diaspora

The lexicon (which I wrote about here) and accent of the diaspora community in North America (specifically the community that descended from the third wave of immigration (1940s-50s), many of which came from Galicia) differs somewhat from the lexicon and accent heard today in western Ukraine. In the diaspora this […]

The Lexicon of the Third-Wave Ukrainian Diaspora

Or, The Vanishing Galician Lexicon and How It Lingers in the Diaspora When I moved to Ukraine, I had to learn a whole new Ukrainian vocabulary. It turned out that I had grown up speaking a Galician/diasporan Ukrainian, which used many dialectisms, Polonisms, and archaisms. To keep track of the differences […]

Guard Stones in Lviv

Guard stones are exterior architectural elements made of metal, stone, or concrete located at the corners of entranceways, carriage driveways, or gateways to protect walls from carriage wheel damage. Once an important element of the horse-drawn transportion infrastructure, guard stones have become largely obsolete as cars do not pose the […]

boot scraper

The Forgotten Boot Scrapers of Lviv

Many years ago I started noticing strange-looking metal objects near certain doors in Lviv. I didn’t give them much thought until I saw one in Przemyśl, Poland, and my friend told me what it was: a boot scraper. Little did I know that this was the start of a new […]

Ghost Signs of Lviv

I love ghost signs. These messages from the past are one of my favorite parts of the urban landscape. I get overly excited every time I discover a new one. Ghost signs (aka fading ads or brick ads) are old hand-painted signs that have been preserved on a building for […]

Prewar Painted Stripes in Lviv

An interesting feature of Lviv’s ghost signs is black and yellow or red and white painted stripes found on former storefronts. There are several opinions floating around as to what exact function they served, so I have yet to have a definitive answer. However, many working in Jewish heritage recently […]

Ghost Sign Liberation

Over the last few years, several of Lviv’s ghost signs have been liberated—by which I mean curious people/ghost sign lovers took into their own hands (literally) to expose signs from under layers of paint and plaster, accelerating the natural process of plaster crumbling due to age and weather. I’ve documented […]

Indoor Ghost Signs in Lviv

It’s less common to find hand-painted signs inside the entranceways and corridors of buildings—but in Lviv there are a few examples of such ghost signs, which served different functions. Kniazha Romana Street I found a few Polish-language ghost signs in the corridor of a residential building in Lviv’s center. I […]

Boot Scrapers in Oxford

In addition to its abundance of beautiful architecture, famous colleges and courtyards, spires, museums, and canals, Oxford also has its fair share of lovely boot scrapers. In a quiet residential area, I stumbled across a long street filled with boot scrapers — almost every one with a unique shape. But they […]