1950s STREET SIGN, Gravesend

by Kevin Walsh

THE owners of a house at Van Sicklen Street and Corso Court, a private cul de sac south of Gravesend Neck Road in the heart of Gravesend, have preserved this embossed enamel sign, which was likely positioned on a telephone pole and serviced by the Department of Traffic (the Department of Transportation’s predecessor).

These style signs were prevalent in the “outer” boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island (where they were yellow with black letters) but even though I was quite young and my memory may be faulty, I never saw them in my forays into Manhattan and my rarer ones into Queens and the Bronx as a kid. They replaced the “humpbacks” that carried the cross street in the “hump.”

Their reign was short as they were grandfathered out in the early 1960s for the color coded borough signs, which became all green in 1984 and beyond.

When I began stalking Brooklyn to get photos for Forgotten NY in 1998, there were rather more of these signs around. But the DOT gradually weeded them out and today no more than two or three remain, and this one is on private property.

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Michael Cairl November 17, 2022 - 9:33 am

Great find, Kevin! I remember seeing a lot of these, and a fair number of humpbacks, when I was a young kid in Brooklyn in the early 60s.

therealguyfaux November 17, 2022 - 12:24 pm

While everyone has seen the old white letter on blue street signs with the bubble or “hump” as you’ve termed it, let’s not forget the other 1950’s short-lived phenomenon of the black-on-yellow with the cross street underneath– apparently you had a picture of one back in 2018, almost five years ago now, because that’s what the link says:

Kevin Walsh November 17, 2022 - 1:06 pm

Those were used in Manhattan exclusively (perhaps only on Midtown)

Donna November 17, 2022 - 6:49 pm

That’s my name! I would love that sign.


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