PORCELAIN SIGNS

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Scattered throughout the five boroughs are the remnants of the previous generation of street signs that predated the familiar green and white signs of today.

Porcelain signs featuring raised letters were installed in the 40s and 50s. I’ve seen most of them in Brooklyn, but I recall some in the Bronx and Staten Island as well. They were color coded in the same hues as the signs that follwed them. Most met their demise in the early Sixties when they were replaced by larger vinyl signs that were color coded for each of the five boroughs.

Now for some signs the DOT forgot…

Every picture tells a story, as Rod Stewart used to say, and so does this one. Auburn Place is a one-block street in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, and there used to be all sorts of short streets cutting through here and there.

Big housing projects like the Raymond Ingersoll Houses, though, eliminated the paths of streets like North Elliott Place, whose presence is still marked here although, like the old sign says, there is NO Elliott Place here anymore.

Not only has the DOT forgot about this wonderfully preserved porcelain sign on Ivy Hill Road in Brooklyn, I defy anyone to figure out where Ivy Hill Road itself is! Take a wild guess. You’ll never get it in a million years. Honest. Hint: there’s no ivy, and there’s no hill.

Homecrest Court is an otherwise undistinguished cul-de-sac off Coney Island Avenue and Avenue T, but it still boasts a 1940s era black and white porcelain sign.

The above sign can be found on 68th Street and Bay Cliff Terrace in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Bay Cliff Terrace is a short cul de sac in a residential area.

The NYC Department Of Transportation has somehow managed to miss this holdout porcelain sign at Union Avenue and Richardson Street in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn.

R.I.P.: as of September 1999, the DOT had noticed this sign and duly removed it.

Closeup view of the old Union Avenue sign.

In some cases, the sign has been removed, but the brackets that held them did not. On the left, at Tonsor Street and Metropolitan Avenue in Ridgewood, the newer green signs have not fared well; perhaps the metal brackets were a better idea! The specimen at right is at 156th and 33rd Avenue in Flushing. Both held white signs with black lettering.

Dahl Court is a tiny dead end on 58th Street near 19th Avenue in Brooklyn’s Borough Park.

York and Sands Streets in Vinegar Hill. Photo: John Oricchio

This Barclay Avenue sign formerly was mounted at the intersection of Barclay and 154th in Flushing. The sign, and 154th Street, were removed to make way for the Thomas Jefferson School in 1966.





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