GOING ROGUE, Little Italy

by Kevin Walsh

ROGUE is a vintage clothing store on Stanton Street between the Bowery and Chrystie Street. I didn’t stop in, I don’t haunt these kind of places (previously I bought all my stuff from K-Mart but now I’ll have to make other arrangements), but looking in the window, one element truly impressed me. Can you guess what it is?

You know. It’s that cool vintage-style NYC street sign in the yellow, or gold, with black lettering that was used on vinyl signs mounted in Manhattan between 1964 and 1984, and on older metal signs on the busier streets for years before that, in what’s among my favorite color combinations. I kept the original 1941 yellow and black tiling in my bathroom when I bought the co-op in 2007!

Not only that, they had the sign made up as the NYC Department of Transportation would if they were still using color coded signs in 2022. That is to say the lettering style is the same, in upper and lower case lettering. Since street signs were first conceived over a century ago, all caps was the rule; then, in the 2010s, it was deemed that upper and lower was the way to go. This is just a nifty job all around.

If you’re too young to remember, street signs in NYC used to be color coded by borough, with white letters on black in Brooklyn, white/blue in the Bronx, blue/white in Queens and (oddly) the same black on yellow scheme in Manhattan and Staten Island.

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Sunnysider March 29, 2022 - 8:50 am

The different colored signs for each borough was such a cool idea. It added a splash of character to the city. Of course, government bureaucrats being the unimaginative, soulless creatures they are, have to make everything as bland, boring and generic as possible.

Peter March 29, 2022 - 9:58 am

The Kmart in Bridgehampton will probably be the last to go of the ten or so that are left, as the Hamptons are a lucrative market with very little retail.

therealguyfaux March 29, 2022 - 10:42 am

You’re REALLY old if you can remember the Manhattan/Bronx white-on-blue-with-the-cross-street-in-a-bubble-above signs.

Those were replaced in Manhattan by black-on-yellow-with-a-larger-bubble-below signs in the mid-1950’s.

Mike March 29, 2022 - 9:40 pm

“street signs in NYC used to be color coded by borough”… I do remember that. I was born in Long Island College hospital in the late ’50’s and raised in Clinton Hill.
I left to move west and have haven’t lived in NYC for almost 25 years.

I miss the city of my memories, as it once was, and sadly, probably never will be again.


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