by Kevin Walsh

This is the street sign style used in Manhattan and the Bronx beginning in the mid-1910s, and surviving in some cases until the early 1960s. They were navy blue and white, with the cross street placed above the main identifier street in what came to be called the ‘hump.’ That serif lettering was exquisite — someone really ought to digitize the letters and numbers and sell them as a font.

From the collection of Lawrence Rogak.



Sherri September 11, 2012 - 6:51 pm

I really love the lettering !! really nice…..

Danny September 12, 2012 - 9:04 am

Dorothea Place, a tiny street in the Bronx, had a sign in that style in the early 1980s.

Kevin Walsh September 12, 2012 - 1:21 pm

I know where that is but didn’t get there till 1999. Any pictures?

There was also one on Allen Place in the 1990s that has since gone

Francis Khoury September 12, 2012 - 10:24 am

How neat to have the matching pair…that’s not easy to do!

I also love the look of these old signs. My happy contribution is this Washington Sq. N. sign. The mounting hardware is actually from Easton, PA, but it is the same as those used on some NYC corners.

pre war walt September 12, 2012 - 1:49 pm

Back in the late 1960s early 1970s United House Wrecking had hundreds
of these signs, all laid out in rows on the bottom edge outside, and they were for sale for $5 each , your choice. I bought 2 still have one.
Rochester , N.Y. used a similar sign, and size and I have a pair from this city along with the cast iron holders and bit that mounted it to the lamp pole. GREAT STUFF.

marianne August 6, 2013 - 8:16 am

am from Rochester, NY and our neighborhood is looking to put these old style signs back up (we have one left). What one do you have?


chris September 12, 2012 - 6:57 pm

Had a 42nd and Bdwy sign in its frame courstesy of the Dept. of Public Works,City of NY,and tossed it into the east river

jim September 17, 2012 - 2:12 pm

the lettering is similar, but not exact, to the Copperplate family of fonts that are easily available…great stuff!

Cities 101: Why Are Some Street Signs Brown and Others Green? | Untapped Cities September 13, 2013 - 10:00 am

[…] larger blue street signs are a reference to the “humpback” style of signage that date from the 1910s to the 1930s. The brown signage was introduced in 1989 […]

W.B. October 9, 2014 - 11:07 am

Actually, some pockets of Manhattan had these old signs up as late as 1970 (such as a picture of Mayor Lindsay with some young’uns around the time of the first Earth Day at East 14th Street and Union Square East where the humpbacks were still in evidence; and a pic taken the same year at Fulton and South Streets). Furthermore, later examples of these sign styles (from what I’ve seen in old photos) listed “Avenue of the Americas” rather than Sixth Avenue, and “United Nations Plaza” which evidently came up prior to the 1950’s yellow and black signs. Those signs on the lower end of Manhattan would have been the ones replaced in the 1969-71 spurt of sign replacement whose dating had been misidentified as “1964.”

Maikel v April 2, 2015 - 5:46 pm Reply
Agusbou2015 July 7, 2019 - 9:53 am

Jeff Levine sells Stickball JNL font, based on the lettering of those street signs.

Anonymous September 6, 2019 - 4:59 pm

I have the Hollers Avenue, crosstreet in the hump is Rombouts Ave, sign and am currently restoring it as best as practical.This is from the Bronx.


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