Old New York In Photos #68 – Broadway and Fifth Avenue 1933

Broadway and Fifth Avenue -1933

Flatiron building Sept 10 1933Looking south from 26th Street and Fifth Avenue, this sidewalk level view was taken by a tourist and dated on the back, September 10, 1933. The focal point was obviously meant to be the world famous Flatiron Building at 23rd Street where Fifth avenue and Broadway meet.

Mercury -photo via photobucket user steven19798

Mercury -photo via photobucket user steven19798

In the foreground however, there is something very interesting to look at. Although it can barely be distinguished, on top of the traffic signal is a statue of Mercury, the Roman god of shopkeepers and merchants, travelers and transporters of goods.

Beginning in 1931, these 17 inch bronze statues were put up on 104 new traffic signals and poles that ran along Fifth Avenue from 8th Street to 59th Street.

Around 1962 the city removed these traffic signals and replaced them with modern ones. With the exception of three of the statues, one at the Fifth Avenue Association office, and two at the Museum of the City of New York, their whereabouts are unknown. The statues were either put into storage or more likely, scrapped.

The other thing to note of in the photograph is the scarcity of people! With the exception of the drivers and passengers in the automobiles and Fifth Avenue buses, there are about five people visible on the sidewalks.

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