For most of the 20th Century, between about 1915 and 1965, Manhattan and the Bronx were dominated by classic “humpback” street signs in navy blue (coincidentally NY Yankee colors) with serifed lettering in white. These signs were supplanted by yellow vinyl signs with black lettering beginning in 1964 until today’s familiar green and white scheme was adopted (though today, Downtown Alliance signs in black and reflective white can be found south of City Hall, and midtown has illuminated blue and white street signs).

However, signs like you see above also had a brief reign on busy midtown avenues in the 1950s and 1960s. They were yellow-colored metal with black lettering in Highway Gothic, with the street name on top and the cross street on a panel on the bottom. Like their fellow navy and white signs, these signs were largely supplanted by vinyl signs in the 60s — though their yellow and black color scheme was retained for twenty years.

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One Response to 1950s MANHATTAN STREET SIGNS

  1. Andy says:

    Loved these signs and remember them well. They were first installed on Third Avenue and Bowery in 1956 right after the old elevated was removed. In subsequent years these signs appeared on Broadway, Fifth Avenue, Ninth Avenue, plus Seventh and Lenox Avenues in Harlem. So they appeared all over Manhattan, from the Battery to 220th Street, not just in Midtown.

    To this day, I feel that their combination of large size and black lettering on bright yellow background made them very readable from a distance – probably the best street signs ever in NYC. Now that I’m a senior citizen readability from a distance is especially important!

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