THERE was a time, specifically back in the 1960s, when tiny signs like this, at 39th Street and 8th Avenue, were all you had to indicate a bus route as far as exterior signage was concerned. At that time there was no such thing as printed bus maps, and online apps were 40 years in the future. The entire route, including the streets where the bus ran, was indicated.
The B35 was one of the buses one parent or the other would take me on Sunday rides when I was a kid, knowing that I enjoyed riding the buses and seeking out the “best” lampposts. This was just after the Department of Traffic had mostly replaced the old ornate Corvingtons and Crooks with octagonal shafted posts. i found these somewhat more boring but even then, I was making mental notes of which streets that Westinghouse Silverliners or GE M400s predominated. I would not learn the names of these fixtures until 1996, when I began to consult Jeff Saltzman’s Streetlite Site, one of the inspirations of Forgotten New York. Even then I preferred the Westys. Why? Because the GE M400s always held the slight edge.
Anyhow we usually rode the B16 (Fort Hamilton Parkway), B37 (3rd Avenue) B63 (5th Avenue) B64 (Coney Island) or B4 (75th Street to Gravesend). To ride the B35 we needed to transfer at 39th Street from the B37, B63 or B16. We would usually get off at Flatbush and Church Avenues and ride back from there, as even in the 1960s the neighborhood got a little dodgy east of there. Very rarely — by that I mean once — we stayed on the B35 all the way to its terminal in Brownsville. We lived to tell the tale. Perhaps my mother fell asleep.
These tiny signs were mostly removed when the boxy bus schedules were installed in the 1980s, which had printed arrival times. Today, to get arrival times, you need to consult an app which makes you do a lot of scrolling to find your route. The printed schedules were easier to use, but I suppose the MTA didn’t want to keep reprinting the schedules when they changed.
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