When I began Forgotten NY in 1998, the last bastions of the two-light stoplight were along Liberty Avenue under the A train el in Woodhaven/Ozone Park, and along Shore Front Parkway and Edgemere Avenue on the Rockaway peninsula. The Department of Transportation has since purged them all away and today, every stoplight in NYC has an “amber”, or yellow, caution light, which, if you’ve seen “Starman,” means go very fast.

This was a Marbleite Crouse-Hinds lamp atop a cylindrical aluminum shaft, but at the time, there were still some “olives” remaining along Liberty Avenue.

A simultaneous red and green = yellow and meant a red light was imminent. Still does outside of NYC where there are remaining two-lamp stoplights.


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20 Responses to CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

  1. Steven says:

    That three-way cluster is actually composed of Crouse-Hinds model type R traffic signals.

    Aside from Marbelite, L.F.E./Automatic Signal and Crouse-Hinds were also used in New York City (with regards to two-section traffic signals).

  2. Fred Mayer says:

    Amber (yellow) lights were the brainchild of some DOT relative. They must have made a fortune changing every traffic light in the country. The Gov’t thinks we’re all to stupid to understand the 2 light system; and we pay for it. No wonder our taxes are so high.

  3. Francis says:

    Very cool picture, and just right for the holiday…:) I remember these and the Ruletas in NYC well. By the way, I must offer an admittedly anal-retentive correction; these happen to be Crouse-Hinds heads, not Marbelite. Very similar in appearance, but Marbelite have a sort of distinctive shape in the back and the hinges are placed closer together. NYC pretty much used Marbelite exclusively until they went out of business in the late 70’s. Now, it’s a mix of many brands.

  4. Jeff B says:

    Interesting how the green light had already been upgraded to a LED unit. I don’t remember seeing any LEDs in NJ until the early 2000’s, guess NYC was more up to date earlier.

    • Francis says:

      You got me thinking because I remember the first time I saw LEDs in traffic lights, and it was a lot longer ago than you might think. I remember seeing them (and wondering “WTF?”) in a signal on US route 130 in Hightstown, NJ, back when I used to commute weekends on that road – it was in 1989!

    • Steven says:

      The city of New York first established the plan to convert its signals (both traffic signals and pedestrian signals) from incandescent light bulbs to L.E.D. module inserts in 1999. The following year, the city began the conversion. It took roughly four years for the city to convert every signal.

      At first, with regards to traffic signals, the city replaced the original incandescent red and green indications with L.E.D. module inserts. The amber indication was not altered, simply because it was not lit for a long period of time (only a couple of seconds). It was not until several years later that a new requirement was passed, and it states that each newly installed traffic signal in New York City must have three L.E.D. signal indications (red, amber, and green). Older traffic signals with incandescent amber indications are only replaced with L.E.D. module inserts if they are inoperable.

  5. Tom B says:

    I remember seeing lots of these as a kid. Was the two light manufactured first? How much more $ to replace with the three light system? Was this an ongoing heated debate at the city council meetings? I smell corruption and payoffs.

    • Francis says:

      Tom, NYC started with 2-color lights in the 20’s, and didn’t start phasing in 3-color lights until 1952 (I have seen some article from ’52 about the new system being introduced). The transition to 3-color was probably almost complete by 1980, but some remained until the early 90’s(?)..

  6. Larry says:

    I remember as a kid, driving over to Jersey and traveling thru the citified areas…Jersey City, Union City, etc and noticing the 3 Light traffic systems…We did not have that in NYC till much later…..

  7. Daniel says:

    There was a two light street light on Bell Blvd in Bayside well into the 1980s.

    There’s a section in Jersey City, I think it is along Palisade Ave, where there are four light street lights.
    The funny thing about them is that it’s a red, yellow, yellow, green light.
    You first think your eyesight has gone blurry.
    Then you realize that’s just how they were made.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      Where on Bell Blvd was it?

    • Francis says:

      Daniel, are you sure it isn’t double RED? Growing up. I saw many double reds in NJ, never a double amber. I think a few do still exist in Hudson county (Union City, West New York, at least). These are for emphasis and redundancy…the red being the most important indication for safety reasons.

  8. Richard E. Nixon says:

    There were a bunch of 2-lights on 30th Ave. in Astoria, between 31st ST. and Steinway, till quite late; also on Broad Channel. (I’ve always wondered if the lonely one out on the southern end of the North Channel Bridge escaped replacement?)

  9. Jason Hoffman says:

    I don’t know if this counts because I think it’s a pedestrian signal, but it’s from June of 2011.

    • Francis says:

      Not exactly, I suppose, but still very cool! Sure reminds me of the old days. 🙂

    • Steven G. says:

      It is actually a vehicular signal, Jason.

      That type of traffic signal is composed of two red signal indications. The top is a steady indication, while the bottom flashes. It is common in New York City, and it typically faces either a driveway of a small business, such as a carwash, for example, or a street that has little or no traffic at all. When you see a steady red indication, you must come to a full stop and wait, and when you see a red indication that flashes, then you must stop and proceed with caution.

      Sometimes, drivers do not know how to approach such a traffic signal, so some signalized intersections that use it are equipped with signs that tell drivers how to approach one.

  10. Tal Barzilai says:

    I never saw the need for the yellow light. Do we really need a light that tells us that it will be changing from green to red when it can just go to red right away? I tend to find that light useless. Of course on some traffic lights, they have a thin white light on the red to remind everyone to stop from a distance, though I used think that it was broken at one time. I know that in Israel, when the light turns from red to green, the yellow light usually come up just before doing that with the red light and then goes to the green light, though going back to red is the same way here.

  11. Kevin says:

    Within the past 2 years NC has started to include yellow turn signal arrows at many intersections. Until you can get used to them, it can be very confusing. You have a green arrow when you have the right of way. You have a yellow flashing arrow when you are supposed to yield to oncoming traffic, but can still make the turn when it is safe. At one particular intersection, you start off with a green arrow, it goes to solid yellow, then to red, while through traffic stays green. Then as oncoming traffic gets a green light, turning traffic gets a flashing yellow. Confused?

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