by Kevin Walsh

Once I get a critical mass of these, they’ll get their own page. This is an example of mid-20th Century traffic signs– in general, signs pointing to bridges would be arrowhead-shaped, while those referencing tunnels would be circular. They were phased out when the large green traffic signs became prevalent, but some are still in place around town.


andy April 10, 2012 - 7:58 pm

I remember these very well. The sign shown for the BW Bridge is a good example of Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority directional signs. Each separate crossing had its own unique variation on the basic arrowhead (bridge) or circle (tunnel) design. The Triborough Bridge sign had a flat top with a white background and blue lettering, for example. The Queens Midtown Tunnel sign had a gold background with black letters. When the Throgs Neck Bridge opened in 1961 it received its own sign similar to the Whitestone one (with the keystone style at the top). Its newest crossing, the Verrazano, also had its own sign but I don’t remember too many of those because when that crossing opened in 1964 it was the beginning of the large green signs that are associated with expressways and freeways everywhere. The following year I received my first driver’s license so adding the time prior to that I’ve been observing these signs for 50+ years.

The region’s other big bridge and tunnel operator, the Port Authority of NY and NJ, used a large rectangular sign with white background and black lettering for all of its directional signs – the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the GW Bridge, and the three Staten Island/NJ bridges.

Steve April 11, 2012 - 7:24 am

These are still around the Boroughs. I love them, especially the one’s pointing to the airports, and the 1964 Worlds Fair. They are so small, hard to believe they were uselful even when they were new.

dave in milwaukee April 12, 2012 - 11:02 pm

. . . kinda like those really old bus stop signs that pointed up toward the sky. Flying buses, perhaps?

Fred April 11, 2012 - 1:55 pm

I wish they still used unique signage. They were easy to pick out when you were trying to wind your way thru a maze of congested streets.

dave in milwaukee April 12, 2012 - 11:14 pm

I agree. When it comes NYC street and highway signs, uniformity is overrated–i.e., if it ‘s not broken, don’t fix it! I especially loved when each borough had its own unique street sign color, back in the late 60s to around the early 80s. There was a good FNY feature on those, a few years ago. l’ll have to look it up.

somebody April 13, 2012 - 7:12 pm

By the way, they have had white-on-blue and white-on-black street signs for a while. Oh, and by the way, the different-colored street signs for each borough were the norm in the late 20th century, but are now a rare sight like these triangular/circular street signs. Speaking of which, I saw a circular sign for the Midtown Tunnel somewhere in Manhattan.

John Telesca April 11, 2012 - 10:30 pm

At Kings Highway & Flatbush Avenue were an amazing set of unique signs, pointing to the Marine Park bridge, Belt Parkway, and the bizarre peanut shaped Atlantic Beach Bridge sign.

somebody April 13, 2012 - 7:08 pm

I saw one for the Verrazano bridge at Clearview Expressway somewhere. Has anyone seen that one?

Leonard Brokowsky April 14, 2012 - 2:50 pm

Lived in the Bronx for the the first 20 years of my life 1946-1966 Remember the signs as if it was yesterday. My dad took us all over the Bronx on sundays for a drive. I lived next to the Washington Bridge (US 1) and there were signs for all of the bridges including the GWB.Next time I go for a ride in the Bronx even though I live in Central Jersey I will look for them

ron s April 15, 2012 - 10:08 am

Rarely, the signs had a “L” or “R” instead of the arrow. Not sure why they didn’t use a sideways arrow.

Jake October 17, 2012 - 8:10 pm

> Rarely, the signs had a “L” or “R” instead of the arrow. Not sure why they didn’t use a sideways arrow.
> RS

the signage standards mandated “L” and “R” instead of the “up and over” elbow arrows until 1948.

Joan Carr April 15, 2012 - 10:55 am

Memories! As teenagers and early 20’s, if we were lost all we did was follow the signs to the Queens-Midtown tunnel, and we arrived safely in our neighborhood. Better than any map.

Gregaaron April 15, 2012 - 3:27 pm

They have some of those Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridge signs in Nassau County too (Lawrence, I think) too…

Joan April 15, 2012 - 5:31 pm


Ken B. April 17, 2012 - 9:22 pm

Those unique “arrowhead” and “circle” signs are no longer being produced, but current day directional signs honor their older cousins. Modern rectangular or square signs that incorporate those old arrowheads and circles within them can be found around town. Those new signs also include “EZ Pass” to remind motorists of that fare paying method.

Kevin Walsh April 18, 2012 - 8:45 am

I’ve seen them

Green Acorns November 28, 2012 - 5:59 pm

That’s true.

COMET July 15, 2015 - 2:52 pm

A driving instructor who was teaching a class on how to get a Taxi License (this was back in the 70’s) that a friend took in NYC told them that the various shapes unique to each situation–circle; arrow etc–were also so people who did not know English could use them as a sort of memory device to get them where they needed to go—don’t know how much truth there is to this as far as original sign markers intent but it would be a help! Also quicker to register on a traffic distracted driver than the plain black on white or white on green where you have to hope you can SEE and READ them in a flash.

Traveling from extremely rural Upstate (no; NOT Rockland!) I had a kid navigating in the front seat and asked::: look for the Triboro Bridge signs and the signs for Queens–he had a panic because some of the signs had the long spelling and some had the abbreviation—to this DAY (and the kid is now 30!) we use this as an ice breaker when we have traffic issues–“How do you SPELL that!!! It CAN’T be the same bridge!!!!”

gary August 16, 2015 - 8:56 pm

I may be crazy, but does anyone remember in the 60’s driving over the Throgs Neck or Whitestone bridge and seeing a sign to either “unbuckle your safety belt” or “unlock car doors” while crossing the span? Having discussion with coworkers and no one recalls. Were there such signs?


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