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Old 01-19-2014, 01:01 PM
 
132 posts, read 261,429 times
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When traffic control towers were inadequate for further usage in the late 1920s, the first automatically controlled red and green traffic signals were introduced and installed by the police dept. in New York City. They would eventually become widespread in the boroughs by the 1930s.

In the borough of Manhattan in particular, the 5th. Av. Association planned a new design for a red and green traffic signal to be in use solely on 5th Av., in which would ultimately replace the original traffic control tower (also made from bronze) that made its debut on the major thoroughfare in 1922. See picture below.



Joseph H. Freedlander was chosen to design the new traffic signal, and, interestingly enough, he was the same man who designed the 5th Av. decorative bronze traffic control tower. The final product was unveiled by the 5th Av. Association and police dept. of New York City on July 22nd of 1929. Below, is a photograph that shows this ceremony.



Freedlander strongly believed in aesthetics, so the bronze signal was decorative as far as its design is concerned. Four directions were in use, and one set of signal indications (red and green lenses) were in use for each side. A statuette of the Roman god Mercury was attached to the top of the housing, in which some believe his gesture indicates for vehicular traffic to stop. Because of the statuette of the Roman god Mercury, some signal collectors and enthusiasts also refer to the bronze signal as the Mercury signal as well.



Beginning in the 1930s, a total of 104 were installed on one segment of 5th Av. Beginning at Washington Sq. Park and ending at the beginning of Central Park.

Though a majority of the traffic signals lacked actual visors, some were equipped with them, in which they were cutaway visors. See an example of one below.



Like other two-section traffic signals of a different kind, the bronze signal originally showed a "dark out" period, in which represented an amber signal indication. After 1952, the traffic signal then showed both the red and green signal indications lit at the same time to motorists.



In the 1950s, two-section traffic signals were still the norm throughout New York City, and changes to improve New York City's traffic control system were taken into consideration. Plans called for newer vehicular heads to replace the aging traffic signals in use at the time, especially the bronze signals. Other reasons were rather personal, since some despised the bronze signal, simply due to its design, in which is totally ironic.

As a result of all discussions and plans, in the 1960s, the traffic dept. of New York City took full charge to remove and scrap the actual bronze signals, in which is also true for the statuettes of the Roman god Mercury, so that collectors could not steal them. Even so, a handful were saved, and some are in the hands of private collectors, while two are currently on display at the Museum of the city of New York. Below, is a picture of one of the statuettes from the museum.



The process of removal was steady in the 1960s, and, by the time of the introduction of the twin-lamp Donald Deskey fixture in the mid 1960s, the process sped up. The new fixture had an arm, in which was for the use of a suspended three-section (red, amber, and green) traffic signal, and new vehicular heads would soon replace the aging bronze signals before the 1960s came to a close.

One of the last bronze signals in service is shown here in this 1968 photograph, while a new vehicular head awaits to be installed at the corner of 5th Av.



Since 1970, the bronze signal has been extinct from 5th Av.
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Old 01-20-2014, 01:01 PM
 
17 posts, read 15,805 times
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Oh really it's nice to know all this information.
Thanks alot.
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Old 01-20-2014, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Helsinki, Finland
5,466 posts, read 10,742,531 times
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How did the guys operating the 5th Av. decorative bronze traffic control tower get up there? Climbing?

And where is the 5th Av. decorative bronze traffic control tower stored now?
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Old 01-20-2014, 09:37 PM
 
132 posts, read 261,429 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitlock View Post
How did the guys operating the 5th Av. decorative bronze traffic control tower get up there? Climbing?
A police officer at the time presumably used a tall ladder to climb to the top.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whitlock View Post
And where is the 5th Av. decorative bronze traffic control tower stored now?
Unfortunately, the seven towers were scrapped by the end of the 1920s. In spite of this, a model of Freedlander's tower, in which dates back to 1924, is in the hands of a private collector today, while another one very similar to it is on display at the Museum of the city of New York. This includes the original drawings for the bronze traffic control tower as well.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:45 AM
 
Location: Helsinki, Finland
5,466 posts, read 10,742,531 times
Reputation: 2411
You clearly spent a lot of time and effort to put this thread up. Reps for that.
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