by Kevin Walsh

Today’s post unites the neighborhods of Far Rockaway, Queens, and Bushwick, Brooklyn, where you will find a pair of the oldest variety of one-way signs remaining in New York City. They are there by pure neglect on the part of the Department of Transportation, of course.


NYC’s original one-way signs were white arrow-shaped signs with “One-Way” spelled out in black. (Some old ones said “Police Dept” on them, as well.) They were replaced by the current flock of rectangular black signs in the 1970s after a midterm interregnum of white signs with black ‘arrowheads.’ Because of the city’s relentlessly thorough sign-replacement policy, an original one-way sign from the 1910s or 20s is rare indeed. But here it is, in one of NYC’s remotest outposts at the L-turn formed by Bolton Road and Virginia Street. Sharp-eyed observers will note upside-down type on the sign; it has been turned upside down over the years, and now points to a house instead of the actual direction traffic should go (see the newer sign adjacent to it).


A second leftover one-way sign can be found on an elevated train pillar at Broadway and DeSales Place, near Broadway Junction in Bushwick. Odd things, as we’ve seen, can sometimes be found lurking beneath els. THis one has not been so much neglected as totally ignored; when the painters did the el, they simply painted over the sign in the same shade of green.

Have I doomed these signs?



Alan Gregg Cohen April 30, 2014 - 7:45 am

It’s pretty hilarious to think when the New York City Department of Transportation updated the Virgina Road and Boton Street street signs, that the missed the “odd” looking “ancient” one way arrow sign pointing in the wrong direction, and failed to replace it.

Alan Gregg Cohen April 30, 2014 - 7:52 am

In the above comment on the second line, the the first word reading “the” should have read “they”.

chris May 1, 2014 - 10:50 am

That arrow would have been highly prized by the photographer Walker Evans

steve May 2, 2014 - 4:16 pm

What is the rusty-looking circle above the arrow? A old tunnel sign?

Kevin Walsh May 3, 2014 - 8:43 am

Possibly – too rusted to make it out

april September 14, 2014 - 3:43 am

Thank you for this most interesting addition. Kevin’s commentors always serve up something to revitalize my convalescing convolusions!


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