March 2019 marks Forgotten New York’s 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, I’ve re-scanned about 150 key images from the early days of FNY from 35MM prints. In the early days, when people including me were accessing FNY with dial-up modems, I had to save photos really small — in some cases, just 4″ across. I couldn’t find all those early photos — I think I foolishly discarded some along the way — but all month, and into April, I’ll be picking out some and showing the newly scanned versions.
When I first started riding buses in Staten Island as a kid in the Swingin’ Sixties, much of the island was still dotted with these perpendicularly-placed street identifiers, which were on their own posts or mounted on telephone poles. They probably had first been installed in the 1930s, as they do show up on Municipal Archives photos taken in 1940. Their gold and black color scheme would be retained for larger vinyl signs installed in the 1960s, until those as well were replaced with green and white signs in the 1980s.
In 1999 I was also tipped about a pair on Jacobs Street in Tottenville, and I duly obtained a photo; the post and its signs were soon removed. In my travels I had also spotted a single Portsmouth Avenue sign on Ocean Terrace in Todt Hill, but I wasn’t carrying a camera then and so didn’t record it. There had been two separate pairs preserved at the Richmondtown historic preserve, but the city saw fit to remove both of those pairs, one about a dozen years before the other one. Fortunately, I was able to photograph each pair.
I am aware of a single specimen still surviving in Staten Island in Oakwood Heights. It’s on private property, but near the sidewalk, and I probably shouldn’t broadcast its location at this point.