Between about 1964 and 1985 all street signs in Queens looked like this, with an off-white background and blue lettering. In 1964 the city installed large vinyl and metal street signs around town, replacing smaller enamel and metal signs that preceded them.

The city had started color coding signs in a haphazard fashion before 1964, but the codification was finalized when the new signs appeared.

Manhattan: gold with black letters. Ditto Staten Island.

[Staten Island had previously been using small gold and black signs, so this was likely a continuation of the policy, and not the actions of a little brother trying to emulate the big dog.]

Brooklyn: black, white lettering

Bronx: Blue, white lettering

Queens: off white, blue lettering

In 1985 federal guidelines stipulated that highway signs, including street signs, should be green with reflective letters. This was applied irregularly around the country, but NYC swiftly adhered to the ruling, and installed green and white signs everywhere, replacing the old color coded system.

Exceptions seem to have been granted for midtown (blue and white reflective signs) and downtown (black and white).

In 1999/2000, there were still a few dozen of the color coded signs around, but by 2011 their number has been whittled down to a precious few, like this one at little-trafficked 2nd Street and 55th Avenue in Hunters Point, Queens.


Categorized in: One Shots Signs Tagged with:

15 Responses to CHANGING CODES

  1. JOEL NORMAN says:

    BORIS A FORMER NY’er!!!!!!!

    • KevinJWalsh says:

      The old format was done on GoLive, a technology no longer supported by Adobe. The new one on wordpress allows greater flexibility and connectivity, including the comment you made here.

      If it’s the thumbnails you object to, I can try and do more full size photos, let me see how that goes.

  2. JP says:

    My objection is that the old website main page used to show the last few regular features plus (for several years now) a few recent slices. You could visit once in awhile and get up to speed. Now it seems that posts are one picture, with no more recent walking features. Those were the meat of FNY. Are they hidden elsewhere on the site? I have been an avid reader of FNY for over ten years now, and I bought your book, too.

    • KevinJWalsh says:

      If you go to the categories on the side of the page, click on each, and posts then come up in the order they were produced from tom to bottom.

      The last few items posted are displayed on the main page from top to bottom.

  3. JP says:

    Yeah, the thumbnails suck, too, go back to the big picture format

  4. mike says:

    kevin, i agree partially with the post above..the new site is not a total disaster…but…it is hard to navigate and figure our what is new and what is not..maybe a differant layout would help..stuff seems to be thrown all over with no rhyme or reason..on another note all your hard work is much appreciated.

  5. KevinJWalsh says:

    There are some things you can’t find merely because I have not been able to move them to wordpress yet. I’ not going back to GoLive, that was from the stone age. I’d get complaintd about that, as well.

    Many have objected to the thumbnails, mainly because firefox has trouble with them, so I will not do any new pages with them.

    This new category, One Shots, wouldn’t be possible If I had not changed to a blog format like wordpress. In GoLive I would have to create all of them from scratch.

  6. Alec says:

    People will always complain anytime anything changes. I’ll get used to it. As for the subject of this post, I thought I saw a piece on ‘In the Papers” last week on NY1 that recent rules regulating changing of the font on the signs are now no longer necessary and it will be halted. Can’t confirm it though, as a google search comes up empty. Nice waste of time and money.

    • Edward says:

      From what I’ve read, the city will change over to new fonts, but only when the current signs wear out over time. The former edict stated that all signage had to have new fonts by 2017 or so. Many current signs will last far longer than that, so the city will save $$ by not being forced to replace perfectly good signage.

      • KevinJWalsh says:

        There’s a LOT of signs worn out right now — faded from being in the sun all day. The city doesn’t seem to be replacing them that way, though.

        Most of the changeover has been done in the Bronx so far.

  7. Al Trojanowicz says:

    Will the SEARCH feature ever come back?

    • KevinJWalsh says:

      On the upper right is a box with a magnifying glass at the right, you can search there. HOWEVER: not all of FNY archives have been move dover yet. The target for that is November.

  8. FNY Fan Skipper says:

    Thank you, Kevin, for all the excellent work over the years! I’ll get used to the new format…I hope. 😉

    Also note that I am not so sure that green and white street signs are absolutely mandated…here in the next town over from where I work, the street signs are white on blue.

  9. somebody says:

    These blue-on-white signs are also found at the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and 148 Street as of September 2011. Go check it out, it is pretty interesting. Along with this sign, these may be the last blue-on-white street signs in all of Queens

  10. W.B. says:

    The installation of the new color-coded signs was in stages. That ‘2 ST’ (in 6″ and 3″ Highway Gothic C, respectively) must’ve dated to between 1964 and 1968. Seemingly, the changeover was haphazard – this 1965 photo showed a 24″ long ‘BROADWAY’ sign (in 4″ high letters) at its northwest corner with West 52nd Street (that may have been from the first group of new signs installed in ’64), while the southeast corner had the prior 1950’s T.T. Wiley-era black-on-yellow signage. Apart from the ENE corner of Broadway and West 44th (on the block where the old Bond Clothes was) which had new signs installed in 1965 (with ‘BROADWAY’ in 5″ high letters on a 36″ long sign – not the same as would be hung over the next three years up and down that stretch, but apparently a prototype thereof), the rest of Times Square didn’t get the “new” signs until later in 1968 (a photo taken in April of that year of which a slide was offered for sale on eBay clearly showed the older 1950’s signs still in place) – and that’s just one example. The southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and East 89th Street (next to the northernmost end of the Guggenheim Museum) apparently got the new signage around fall 1965 in its last months of being two-way traffic – but not until 1968 did, say, the northeast corner of Fifth and East 34th get new signs (while its southeast corner near West 34th, next to the Empire State Building, apparently got the new style signage around late 1965-early ’66). Most of Manhattan from 24th to 60th Streets (plus selected sections of The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) got their new signs in place before 1969, while the other ends mostly had the older ’50’s black-on-yellow or even (into 1970!) older “humpback” signs. Then in summer 1969 another set of signs began showing up, largely south of 23rd Street and north of 61st Street in Manhattan; and much of the other four boroughs, installed over a period of two years up to 1971 or so. One of the earliest pics is this one taken on Aug. 4, 1969, showing a brand-new BROADWAY / CHAMBERS ST combo; here is a rare Midtown combo, on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 41st Street, showing the latter as ‘E 41 ST’ (others that I know of were on the northwest corner of First Avenue and East 36th Street; the southwest corner of Park Avenue and East 35th Street; roads leading to the Queens Midtown Tunnel at East 36th and 37th Streets between First and Second Avenues; and the northwest(?) corner of Broadway and West 38th Street; plus an ‘AVE OF THE AMERICAS’ sign on its southwest corner with West 49th Street). As well, another pic on eBay, of Mayor Lindsay at a campaign rally on West 147th Street and (possibly) St. Nicholas Avenue, showed the newer 1969 signage a month before his re-election; either humpbacks or the 1950’s black-on-yellow hung there the year before.

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