102nd STREET SIGN, Upper West Side

Most street signs that appear on corner buildings are functional and nonesthetic at best, but this one above the Mexican Festival restaurant at the SE corner of Broadway and 102nd has a flair and panache that separate it from the rest. (Hey, that rhymes.)

There’s some orthographic history here too — this sign points out an older way of writing the ordinal number two, or a number that’s a member of a list. Ordinal numbers end in -th, e.g. fourth, fifth, etc, except for 1, 2, and 3 (“first, second, third” –special cases because ordinal numbers for 1 and 2 aren’t derived from the number name, and only partially derived from the number name “three.”) Thus, -st is the suffix for 1st, while -nd and -rd are the suffixes for 2 and 3.

Except it wasn’t always that way. If you look in older textbooks you are just as likely to find the ordinal numbers “2d” and “3d” as you are “2nd” and 3rd.” Somehow, the single-lettered style fell from favor, and is rarely seen these days.

This sign is a block south of where Humphrey Bogart used to live, and where a singularly evocative old store sign was briefly uncovered in 2014.


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2 Responses to 102nd STREET SIGN, Upper West Side

  1. TJD says:

    Reminds me of the Koster and Bial’s The Corner on 24th street and 6th Avenue’

  2. Stephen Silkowski says:

    The West’s regional law reports are still cited, e.g., So.2d [sic–no space when citing for Florida courts; they go ballistic]. This post is more an excuse to publicly thank you for your many years of explaining to this scion of the Connecticut woods the intimidating wonders of New York City. I only have a degree–you’re the true historian.

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