by Kevin Walsh

WHEN I saw this unique stoplight on Father Capodanno Boulevard and Seaview Avenue in Midland Beach, I thought it might be the vanguard of a new style of simplified-design stoplights that would be installed in NYC, but none have appeared since 2018, when I got this shot. Also note the boxy street sign that is illuminated at night by lamps within. That too is still unique.

When I first saw it in the 1960s, Father Capodanno Boulevard was called Seaside Boulevard. It was a relatively new surface express route that took traffic from Lily Pond Avenue in Arrochar and paralelled the South Beach Boardwalk to a loop south of Greeley Avenue. When constructed from 1957-1958 it was called simply Seaside Boulevard, but it was given a new name, Father (Vincent R.) Capodanno Boulevard, for a local Catholic parish chaplain killed while on duty in Vietnam in 1967. The new name was bestowed in 1976; today, it’s quite rare for a street name to be completely replaced with an honorific name. Such names have become more frequent in recent years, but the honorific sign appears next to the original name which is kept more often that not. A recent exception is “Tuskegee Airmen Way,” named for a Black WWII flight battalion, which replaced all South Road signs in South Jamaica.

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Edward May 6, 2023 - 7:08 pm

If memory services me, the lighting fixture and backlit street sign was a prototype that the DOT was testing on Staten Island about 20 years ago. SI Borough President Molinaro was on vacation in Florida and saw similar fixtures while in the Sunshine State and convinced the DOT to test similar fixtures on SI. The multi-lane traffic light fixtures never materialized, but the non-backlit version of the street signs did and are now ubiquitous in all five boroughs. You can thank the Boro Prez for that.

therealguyfaux May 6, 2023 - 9:38 pm

Easier to replace a generic street name like “Seaside BL” or “South Rd” than one that already commemorates someone.

Edward F. May 7, 2023 - 7:52 am

This type of traffic light is fairly common in other states. I’ve seen them in use in Pennsylvania since about the 80s, and Jersey is using them now too. The illuminated street sign, however is a new one to me.

Anonymous May 7, 2023 - 11:50 am

Fr Capodanno was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism in Vietnam. A Catholic chaplain, he was with them in a terrible battle and wounded, he threw himself onto a wounded soldier, giving up his life.

John May 7, 2023 - 2:38 pm

I guess you mean the mast arm? The base is set back from the road. There must be buried utilities along the road.


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