Tag Archives: Traffic Signals

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. Continue reading

Old New York in Photos #19

Traffic Signal –  Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, 1922

The Beginning of New York City’s Traffic Lights

This ornate traffic light, was one of seven put up in New York City on the heavily traveled Fifth Avenue in 1922.

The city had experimented with traffic signals in 1917 when a device invented by an engineer, Foster Milliken, was installed at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. The device was a revolving flashlight that would flash signals as red to stop and green for go.  This may sound ridiculous now, but in the early days of traffic signals there was no standard for color relating to traffic. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #15

42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, 1928

A street level photograph looking east on 42nd Street towards 5th Avenue on a chilly day in 1928. On the left side of the photograph and just to the right of the twin street lamp globes is one of the early traffic towers which would control vehicular traffic flow with colored signals. New York City had been installing traffic lights at very busy intersections since 1920.

The billboard on the northeast corner of 5th and 42nd advertises The Delineator, a magazine devoted to fashion, culture and fine arts. It was published from 1873 until 1937 when it merged with Pictorial Review.

Old New York in Photos #8 Fifth Avenue North From The Plaza 1930

Fifth Avenue Looking North from The Plaza (59th Street) 1930

Two way vehicular traffic is probably a shocking thing to see on Fifth Avenue, but in 1930 it was the norm. Also note: no traffic lights or policemen directing traffic. Pedestrians cross at their own risk.