The sign in 2014 (left) and on Monday (right).

A sign painted on a building on 72nd Street about Depression that had been around for at least a decade has disappeared.

We don’t know exactly when it was painted over, but Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal pointed out the disappearance on Monday, asking on Twitter “What is missing from this street scene of 72nd Street?”

It had been up since at least 2002, when it showed up in this flickr photo. As commenters below note, it may have been up for several decades.

“Depression is a flaw in chemistry not character,” the sign said, directing people to call a 1-800 number. That number leads to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, which is “committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research.”

We placed a call to the management company at 166 West 72nd, the building with the sign, but did not hear back.

HISTORY, NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 28 comments | permalink
    1. Liz says:

      Wow!! I get to be the first person to comment on this matter.

      I always wondered how that sign got there and why it was there. Thanks for clearing up that issue.

      Odd that after some many years all of a sudden it needed to be painted over.

      My guess … new will soon have a new owner.
      Condo apt. in bldg. will start at $3M.

      So … sign would no longer be appropriate for such a “high end” bldg.

      Sorry to see sign go. Just another example of the vanishing NYC.

      Every thing in NYC is getting to be so generic.

      • Chrigid says:

        Well, if there is a plan afoot to turn the building into a condo, I suggest we put a halt to it by referring to it as the Depression Condo. The Chemical Condition Condo? The Character-Flaw Condo?

        Hundreds of us could try to apply for an apartment, and then balk when told the sign is not going back up: “But I LOVED that sign! I always wanted to live in the building with that sign.”

    2. Jane says:

      I loved that sign, and am glad I took a photo of it. It had a great message!

    3. Diane says:

      That sign had been there much longer than stated in that story. Over the years I have taken pics of that very comforting statement and sent it to friends and family for encouragement. Personally, it has been a beacon and now I’m just plain depressed over it.

    4. Cozmocharlie says:

      I have to think this has been there longer than that. living on the UWS for over 20 years and knowing people that have suffered from depression, seeing that sign has been a constant taste of reality for some, comfort for others and a real statement of love and understanding for all those that walk with us. Seeing that sign made gave me a knowing smile – every time. It has been iconic for the UWS 72nd st. I can’t believe it’s gone.

    5. Whatsupduck says:

      I used the picture as a teaching tool and in my work, and had a student call it once. It was a resource line, if memory serves.

    6. MJ says:

      That sign was up when I moved to the city in 1997. It was always my favorite sign…bummed.

    7. JJ says:

      Definitely longer than that. I have a vague recollection that it appears in Taxi Driver (1976) but could be completely wrong. Every time I saw it I was surprised it was still there.

    8. marilyn lamkay says:

      i loved that sign as a mental health professional i totally appreciated the conscious raising value of that truth

    9. If the owner reads this and wants to get another paid ad (to double as a similar PSA to this lost message), they could reach out to our own Child Mind Institute here in NYC or to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance in Chicago.

    10. geoff says:

      of well, there is still “Industry, Thrift, Prosperity” carved into marble just a block away. it’s not going away any time soon.

    11. janet Fried says:

      Leave at the sign up….It helps people.

    12. Sherman says:

      It seems that every other person I know on the UWS is depressed and on meds (and I’m not exaggerating).

      The company that sign was for probably did great business.

    13. Sean says:

      The UWS now is comforted much more by a new a new pair of shoes, manicures and pedicures, a Brazilian wax, and wearing a t-shirt that announces where you got your degree from.

      • B.B. says:

        Ok, am new here so maybe have missed something. What is it exactly you have with “waxing” Brazilian or otherwise?

        Merely require information, as you seem to work it into many postings, and wonder if it is just your personal thing or do you really want more waxing salons.

    14. ScooterStan says:

      Might the building-owner have gotten SO DEPRESSED by all the Kvetching Kvetchers never-ending Kvetches like:

      1) The UWS ain’t wot it use-ta be;
      2) The UWS is only for rich people;
      3) The UWS is becoming suburbia;
      4) The UWS ain’t librul enuff;
      5) The UWS is de Blasio’s fault

      that (s)he ordered the sign obliterated ??????

      • Bornandraisesldon86 says:

        Says the guy or gal who moved here in the past five years (and probably lives in “Riverside South.”

        • ScooterStan says:

          Re: “the guy or gal
          Well, we’ve all heard of Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” but how many have ever heard of ‘A Gal Named Stan’.

          Re: “who moved here in the past five years”

          Re: “(and probably lives in “Riverside South.”
          NOPE…altho’ nothing wrong with Riverside South…but that’s just another generalization…like all of yours.

    15. the_the says:

      Even thought the sign has been up there for all of these years, perhaps the city decided to classify it as commercial advertising/billboard which is not allowed in this neighborhood and slapped the building with fines?

      • dannyboy says:

        “perhaps the city decided to classify it as commercial advertising/billboard”

        so much makes me question the dysfunction
        but this would make my head spin

    16. Sean says:

      That sign was depressing.

    17. Kenneth says:

      That wall is a prime piece of outdoor advertising space. Perhaps the research foundation that advertised there is allocating funds elsewhere and now the building owner is monetizing the wall a different way.

    18. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      I’ll miss that sign.

    19. Jeff says:

      Will be interested to find out the backstory, hopefully the details come out. It’s definitely a bummer to see the sign go.

      I would note that in the bottom right of the photos, you can see the edge of another white rectangle where billboard-style advertisements (most recently for Stella Artois beer) reigned until about four years ago before also being eliminated.

      • dannyboy says:

        “Will be interested to find out the backstory, hopefully the details come out.”

        Jeff, start your investigation by identifying the tenants of apartments with windows facing that wall.

        of course, i’m just guessing

    20. Zeus says:

      I find it very depressing that the sign is gone.
      I loved having a dog at papaya, and walking to needle park to eat it while seeing the sign.
      Me think it has been around for more than 20 years, but me may be wrong, because I am so depressed now and I don’t have that 800 number ready.

    21. Susan flato says:

      I miss that sign–every day!!!

    22. That sign looks like a good reminder for everyone. It raises consciousness about depression. And yes – i am thinking there will be a new building or a condo to be built in there..