Plenty of archaeologists look for arrowheads, remnants of Native American populations of centuries before our own. At Forgotten New York I seek arrowheads as well — by which I mean the uneven six-sided signs installed throughout town that direct traffic to expressways or bridges — they were the GPS devices of their day.
These signs in general seem difficult to spot, and they were usually installed at traffic lights where drivers could get a better look at them. Arrowheads were used for expressways and bridges, while circles were used for tunnels. As was the case for color-coded streets signs by borough, these signs also had different colors for different routes, though I haven’t figured them out yet!
Most have been phased out as larger signs have taken their place. In the past decade, though, the Department of Transportation has returned to an arrowhead motif, though the arrowheads are merely artwork inscribed on a standard 4-sided sign.
My FNY compadre Gary Fonville found this pair on a recent visit to the south Bronx, where there’s a plethora of remaining Arrowheads.
The sign installed at East 167th Street and Gerard Avenue directs traffic straight ahead on Gerard, which flows into Jerome Avenue. In turn, the Cross-Bronx Expressway can be accessed from Jerome, and driving east a few miles will bring you to both the Bronx-Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges.
The other one, directing traffic to the right lane on a northbound Grand Concourse at East 184th Street to get at the Bronx-Whitestone, is a little less cut and dried, since continuing north, there aren’t any expressways that go there. However, you can turn right on Fordham Road, which turns into the Pelham Parkway, and take that to the Hutchinson River Parkway which then crosses the East River over the Bronx-Whitestone.
Here are more city crossing arrowheads, from a 1941 annual report.