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Kris
October 10th, 2003, 10:49 PM
October 11, 2003

Following New York Signs Is Long Way to Nowhere

By MICHAEL BRICK

http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2003/10/10/nyregion/SIGN.184.1.jpg
New York street signs often point to routes that are circuitous, confusing, counterintuitive, outdated, illegal, or just plain odd.

The seasoned motorist or indefatigable road-tripper, even the operator of a taximeter cabriolet, must at some point face that dark, despairing moment of hapless reckoning, staring dumbfounded at some of New York City's street signs.

The moment often comes when the time is wrong for contemplation, when the driver is late and harried and cursing at the windshield. But the motorist is not to blame. It is an open secret that many street signs here point to routes that are circuitous, confusing, counterintuitive, outdated, illegal or just plain strange.

There is, for instance, a sign on the northbound Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive near the Brooklyn Bridge exit that says "Flushing Meadows Corona Park." Options for reaching that destination, where tennis players bring glory upon themselves in the United States Open and where the Mets also play, are paralyzingly numerous from this starting point. The choices include, among others, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and taking the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to connect with the Long Island Expressway, a roughly 12-mile, somewhat-less-than-direct jaunt.

And because the choice is yours, the sign amounts to little more than a blithely encouraging reminder: You're in the right city, Pumpkin, just keep on driving.

The same can be said of the nearby sign marked "Yankee Stadium." This one points north. Now, it is an incontrovertible fact that Yankee Stadium is north of Lower Manhattan, but having absorbed that little piece of information, you would still have some navigating ahead of you. This sign seems to serve no purpose other than to be equitable to both baseball teams.

"To a New Yorker, you'll sit there and go, `What is this about?' " said Thomas Cocola, a spokesman for the city's Department of Transportation. "But if you think about it from the perspective of a guy from New Jersey, or who is staying in a hotel in New Jersey and now is going to his first Yankee game, those signs are reassuring."

Reassuring though they may be to the Jersey Guy, the signs pointing to destinations miles away in other boroughs are not of much help. And besides, that explanation does not clear up the reason for all the signs that lead to dead ends or point in the opposite direction of the destinations they promise.

It certainly does not settle the question of why, again near the Brooklyn Bridge, some of the most thorough signage on this planet points the way to the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp, the piece of roadway named in memory of the young Hasidic student who was slain on the bridge in 1994. Some people believe that scientists will one day invent a supercomputer to estimate the number of signs marking the way to the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp. There may be people in far-flung countries who can recite flawless directions to the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp, so well marked is its approach.

These curiosities come to inhabit their lamppost perches by dint of good intentions tempered by negotiation and time. Of the hundreds of thousands of street signs in New York, there are close to 1,000 that are meant to point the way to stadiums and museums and the like, and scores more for hospitals, Mr. Cocola said.

These signs are known as trailblazers, a somewhat excessively macho term for the job performed even by the helpfully accurate ones.

People who study this issue (Yes, there are people who study this issue. Ah, New York.) say that the odd placement of these signs is in many cases a result of long chains of compromises between the places that wish to be found by drivers and the various city agencies charged with obliging them.

"You start thinking about the groups that have a claim to signage — cultural institutions, hospitals — and you're dealing with an agency that doesn't have the money or frankly the real estate to put up all the signs everyone wants," said John Kaehny, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group for pedestrians and bicyclists. "The signs end up in some nonsensical places."

The city does have an official Policy and Guidelines statement for the posting of trailblazer signs. This states that such signs are installed "only if it is determined that the sign supplements the existing street information and diminishes uncertainty or confusion on the part of the driver." To explore the disconnect between that policy statement and the reality encountered every day by lost New York drivers, this newspaper attempted to travel to a variety of destinations in several boroughs, using only the trailblazer signs for guidance.

Supplied with a half tank of gas, sunglasses, a bag of beef jerky and enough Blow Pops to sustain a photographer and reporter who are no longer chain smokers through some frustrating driving, The New York Times set out for the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, Fordham University in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Children's Museum and SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.

Readers get to come along — spared, of course, the actual driving. It's for the best.

The journey to the Javits Center begins on Second Avenue at 57th Street, where a cheerful sign with a picture of an apple says Javits Center and points north. As Second Avenue is a one-way thoroughfare where traffic flows south, and as midday traffic would seem to promise a quick and painful death to anyone trying to follow that sign, you assume the sign has been turned by a vandal or the wind, and instead you head west on 57th Street.

There should be a left turn here somewhere. This is cheating, but you already know where the Javits Center is, at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, so you are looking for that next sign, one to point you a little ways downtown, but it never comes. By the time the West Side of Manhattan slopes down into the land of car dealerships, the Hudson River comes into view. Here your journey ends, because cars are expensive and you can't just go driving them into a river every time some sign tells you that the Javits Center is coming up.

To Fordham you go. Tooling up the Major Deegan Expressway, you are guided to Exit 11. This deposits you on Van Cortlandt Park South, where you are directed in a loop around the university.

This route seems strange, but a little patience bears out the sign hanger's intent. Had you left two exits earlier, you could have driven straight east on Fordham Road. Driving back to the expressway that way, though, the wisdom of this route becomes apparent. Fordham Road has lots of traffic lights, it is a busy pedestrian shopping district, and you can see things that might discomfit a nervous suburban parent, starting with funky stores like Liquer's and Millenium 2000 Jewelry and Bang Bang Leather.

These confusing sign-following experiences, though, pale next to the travails of navigating Brooklyn, where there is, in just one excruciating example, a tangled web of signs that could be called the Gowanus Expressway Overpass Trap.

Start at the intersection of McDonald Avenue and 20th Street, at the corner of Green-Wood Cemetery. Signs pointing down 20th Street promise to take you to the Brooklyn Children's Museum. But you pass Sixth and Seventh Avenues and never see a sign. You pass businesses that can build a skateboard ramp for you and places that can repair your forklift, but you do not see another sign for the museum, and your journey ends under the Gowanus Expressway.

A similar thing happens when you follow the sign on Coney Island Avenue near Caton Avenue for SUNY Downstate Medical Center. This one guides you into an endless loop. Deciding to maintain the direction that the sign indicates, you find yourself under the Gowanus Expressway, again. "God forbid you have an emergency and you're out in the middle of nowhere and you want to follow those little blue and white signs," said Mr. Cocola of the Transportation Department. SUNY Downstate Medical Center does exist, but if you can make it there, boys, you'll make it . . . oh, forget it.

Paul S. Pearson, a vice president of the Brooklyn Children's Museum, said that the museum's sign on 20th Street was intended to guide motorists leaving the Prospect Expressway to another set of signs for cultural institutions.

"That particular one is always a puzzling one," Mr. Pearson said.

Placing the signs, he said, was a $300,000 project that took four years, involved the Economic Development Commission and a design firm, and required approvals from the city's Parks Department, Department of Transportation and Art Commission, as well as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Transit and the office of the Brooklyn borough president.

"It seems fairly straightforward," Mr. Pearson said. "You pull out a map and say where you want to go. From there on out, it's a lot of negotiations and approvals."

There is another way, but this would probably lead to chaos if everyone tried it. A block from the sign for SUNY Downstate, at the corner of Coney Island Avenue and Caton Place, there is a piece of white cardboard, no bigger than a dish towel and fashioned into the shape of an arrow. It says "Calvary Cathedral of Praise."

Right down the block, just where the arrow says it will be, is a building marked "Calvary Cathedral of Praise." It's an unusual moment of absolute clarity.

"The people that really come out ahead," said Mr. Kaehny of Transportation Alternatives, "are the ones that make their own signs and put them up."

http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2003/10/11/nyregion/signs2-big.jpg
GO NORTH: A sign marked "Yankee Stadium" sits on a median below Houston Street in Lower Manhattan.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company


www.transalt.org

Gulcrapek
October 10th, 2003, 11:19 PM
There is a sign near the outskirts of Downtown Brooklyn which reads "Brooklyn Bridge", and directs the reader straight.

The bridge is in the opposite direction.

nycla3
February 18th, 2008, 02:18 PM
October 11, 2003

It certainly does not settle the question of why, again near the Brooklyn Bridge, some of the most thorough signage on this planet points the way to the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp, the piece of roadway named in memory of the young Hasidic student who was slain on the bridge in 1994. Some people believe that scientists will one day invent a supercomputer to estimate the number of signs marking the way to the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp. There may be people in far-flung countries who can recite flawless directions to the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp, so well marked is its approach.




How many "No Honking" or "Children at Play" signs haven't been created to allow so many Ari Halberstam signs to exist? Just asking.

I drive over the bridge often enough that I get a feeling they multiplied in the last 6 weeks...

Merry
December 28th, 2009, 12:25 AM
How to Find the Bridge? First, Pay Your Respects

By SAM ROBERTS

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/12/28/nyregion/28signs_CA0/popup.jpg

The metal signs are impossible to miss. They are oversize, in a bold blue usually found on signs directing drivers to the nearest hospital. And there are lots of them — 13 in all, according to the city’s count — along a quarter-mile stretch of roadway and its approaches.

In fact, probably no thoroughfare in New York City is better identified than the ramp connecting the southbound Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive to the Brooklyn Bridge. The signs all say the same thing: “Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp.”

Many drivers no doubt have no idea who that is. And that’s precisely why the signs are there.

On March 1, 1994, Ari Halberstam was shot on the ramp as he and other yeshiva students were returning to Brooklyn in a van from a vigil for the ailing Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Ari died five days later. He was 16.

The shooting was considered an act of terrorism. Prosecutors said the gunman, Rashid Baz, a Lebanese immigrant who is serving a 141-year prison sentence for the attack, was retaliating for the massacre several days earlier of Muslim worshippers in the West Bank by a Jewish settler from Brooklyn.

Ari’s mother, Devorah Halberstam, was intent on keeping her son’s legacy alive, even as his killing has receded from memory.

In 1995, the City Council, sympathetic to her loss and to the larger symbolism of the killing and mindful of the political clout of the Hasidic community, formally named the ramp in Ari Halberstam’s memory. But the tribute went far beyond the usual street namings that honor fallen police officers, veterans, victims of 9/11 and others who usually get a green-and-white ceremonial street sign below the one with the original name.

While nobody questions Miss Halberstam’s motivation, the unusual scope of the sign tribute has raised questions from some city officials and, occasionally, the curiosity of passing motorists. When several of the signs were removed a few years ago to make room for warnings that the bridge was under police surveillance, the ensuing outcry prompted City Hall to back down.

Kenneth K. Fisher was one of the councilmen who introduced the name-change bill, which passed, 49 to 0.

“It was real statement by the Council and by the mayor that this was not simply a case of road rage,” he said. Ari’s mother, he said, “was a very effective advocate for the notion that her son’s murder should be recognized, and she happened to come from a particularly politically active sect. Do there need to be quite as many markers indicating where the incident occurred? That was done by the transportation commissioner at the time. The legislation didn’t specify that.”

Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker, said 13 signs might be excessive, “but at some point you need to get the message out.”

Christopher R. Lynn, the city’s transportation commissioner at the time, said the signs were a compromise.

“You couldn’t rename the bridge,” he said.

The deal was engineered, in part, by Randy M. Mastro, who was Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s chief of staff. “The least the city could do is to honor his memory with a few signs where that tragedy occurred so we never forget,” Mr. Mastro said. Mr. Lynn said he made the final decision. “I remember telling Rudy, ‘When you take that curve, you don’t see the sign,’ ” he recalled. “He said, ‘I trust your instinct.’ So I put up around seven.”

The seven signs are on the ramp itself, he said; others are on the approaches to the ramp.

Miss Halberstam said that “the number and where they were placed was decided not by me.”

But since the signs were put in place, she has been quite protective. A few years ago, outraged after she noticed that some signs were missing, apparently replaced by the police surveillance signs, she sent an e-mail message to Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris.

“I just crossed the bridge and there are three signs missing on the ramp,” she wrote in the message, a copy of which was obtained through a Freedom of Information request. “Who did this? Who dishonored my son’s memory? What is going on? Who would do this? Who would stab a knife in my heart like this? Patti, please look into this a.s.a.p. because I will not have a second of peace until this is corrected and restored.”

Whether and how Ms. Harris responded is unclear, but soon after Miss Halberstam’s plea, City Hall ordered the signs restored.

“Once the signs are put up,” Miss Halberstam said in an interview, “they should not be taken down.”

From time to time, Miss Halberstam, who was divorced from her husband after their son’s death, said she gets complaints about the signs.

“You hear some negative comments: ‘Why was it done for Ari?’ ” she said. “The reason I wanted this wasn’t just because he was my child. Ari represented an innocent victim of terrorism. He was murdered as an American citizen and because he was clearly identified as a Jew.”

Besides her role in the signs and a Web site, arihalberstam.com, Miss Halberstam works for the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn, which opened in 2005 and whose focus is tolerance and understanding; it is dedicated in her son’s memory. She has also worked with law enforcement officials on gun control and combating terrorism.

“She has taken a tragedy — the most horrible tragedy a parent can go through,” and turned it into something meaningful, said David M. Pollock, associate executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

Councilman Lewis A. Fidler, a Brooklyn Democrat and a friend of Miss Halberstam, said: “Most people under those circumstances retreat into hate, anger, bitterness or loss of faith. This woman has built a children’s museum.”

The signs leading to the bridge will always remain precious to Miss Halberstam, though she realizes that the shooting is largely forgotten, particularly after 9/11.

“The first years everybody remembered,” she said. “We’re up to the second and third generation, and people are saying, ‘Who was Ari Halberstam?’ ” Perhaps, she mused, another sign, with more details about what happened, could be put up on the bridge itself.

In the meantime, work on the ramp is scheduled to begin in a few months. City officials vow that not a single sign will be touched.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/nyregion/28signs.html?ref=nyregion

Ninjahedge
December 28th, 2009, 11:42 AM
The "message" is wasted since most people do not know the story.

This is just kissing arse and paying homage to win favor of a RELIGIOUS GROUP, exactly what our government should not be doing.

You want to name it in memoriam? Fine, but don't go spending thousands of dollars a shot at putting signs up all over naming a ramp.

lofter1
December 28th, 2009, 12:00 PM
^ Gotta keep that voting bloc on the team.

nycla3
December 28th, 2009, 01:20 PM
This is one of my all-time button pushers...a blight on common sense and my senses. An utterly disgusting display of political toadyism.

The Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp? Really? One discrete sign would have been in good taste. This feces overkill has the exact opposite effect on me as what was intended...I hate Ari Halberstam. Are you happy, City Council? Good job.

antinimby
December 28th, 2009, 03:19 PM
^ Don't hate him. He had nothing to do with this. Hate the system, hate his mother, hate the politicians but don't hate the poor guy.

I agree with everything else. Such a waste of money in a city where every dollar could be put to so much better use.

DarrylStrawberry
December 29th, 2009, 05:09 PM
This is just kissing arse and paying homage to win favor of a RELIGIOUS GROUP, exactly what our government should not be doing.

Do all of the parades for every group in the city tick you off? They cost a ton of money in clean-up and security. How about no meter parking on sundays in deference to the christian church?

To tell you the truth, I wish the city did more to mark the places where incidents like these have happened. No one remembers Yusef Hawkins or Michael Griffith anymore. They should.

Ninjahedge
December 29th, 2009, 06:57 PM
Do all of the parades for every group in the city tick you off?

Yes, especially when I am driving through them! ;)

AAMOF, I am sick of how many people have to prove they are so "proud" of themselves they need a parade. :P


They cost a ton of money in clean-up and security. How about no meter parking on sundays in deference to the christian church?

You can toll them if you want, but that deference was also in place because they:

1. Could not get enough people to give tickets
2. They ARE, afetr all, supposed to representing the town (what is teh purpose of the meters again? Oh yeah, to make it so people do not leave their cars and make it so that people cannot get to the local buisnesses, most of which were closed on Sunday.... etc etc).
3. Don't start with the "Well what about everything that was done for..." as if that somehow makes arse kissing ANOTHER group more acceptable.


To tell you the truth, I wish the city did more to mark the places where incidents like these have happened. No one remembers Yusef Hawkins or Michael Griffith anymore. They should.

The key is, as was mentioned by others. MEMORIALIZE, do NOT Diefy. 1 plaque or sign on the ramp, not 15.

lofter1
December 29th, 2009, 07:06 PM
Parades and such are claimed to bring in folks who spend money.

nycla3
December 30th, 2009, 12:50 PM
MEMORIALIZE, do NOT Diefy. 1 plaque or sign on the ramp, not 15.

Bingo.

^^^^No, I don't hate Ari Halberstam...unfortunately, he got caught in the crossfire of my seething resentment of this particular overbaked response to an interest group. I know there are more important things to be pissed at, but for some reason, the Ari Halberstam Ramp just sets me off. Why not the Roebling Ramp, or 9/11 Ramp? Ok, you want an AH Ramp? One tasteful plaque and I'm on board and this is a non-event and even empathize.

DarrylStrawberry
December 30th, 2009, 05:59 PM
1. Could not get enough people to give tickets
2. They ARE, afetr all, supposed to representing the town (what is teh purpose of the meters again? Oh yeah, to make it so people do not leave their cars and make it so that people cannot get to the local buisnesses, most of which were closed on Sunday.... etc etc).
3. Don't start with the "Well what about everything that was done for..." as if that somehow makes arse kissing ANOTHER group more acceptable.

The key is, as was mentioned by others. MEMORIALIZE, do NOT Diefy. 1 plaque or sign on the ramp, not 15.


NH, I really disagree with you on this. The first point is silly, the city finds people to police the streets, run the trains, answer 311 calls and do a zillion other things on Sundays.

I don't understand your second point. However, the vast majority of the local businesses in my neighborhood are open on Sunday.

Your third point is the crux of the issue for me. I love the texture of this city. The fact that as many different kinds of people can live here together in relative peace with one and other is incredible to me. Our shared experiences are important. I hope we don't only mention them in passing, but rather highlight them. Also, I like the parades.

Lastly, I think categorizing the extra signs that have been hung as deification (with plenty of ALL CAPS)is a tad hyperbolic, don't you? In my opinion, the most accurate description one could offer of the AH ramp's signage is closer to "it's a bit much".

Ninjahedge
January 1st, 2010, 08:35 PM
NH, I really disagree with you on this. The first point is silly, the city finds people to police the streets, run the trains, answer 311 calls and do a zillion other things on Sundays.

But those rules were written before 311, or other thing were that much of an issue.

Blue Laws are still in effect in Bergen County NJ, and while some say that is being religiously discriminate, most (including many Jews) really do not mind having a bit of reprieve from the mall traffic (although I would bet many Jewish shoppers would prefer Saturday closure than Sunday.... except those that own the shops in a predominantly catholic/Christan neighborhood! ;) )

Religion has faded from many of the rules, but they kept them from their inception. So are you saying we should start activating the meters on Sunday now?


I don't understand your second point. However, the vast majority of the local businesses in my neighborhood are open on Sunday.

Were they when the law was written?


Your third point is the crux of the issue for me. I love the texture of this city. The fact that as many different kinds of people can live here together in relative peace with one and other is incredible to me. Our shared experiences are important. I hope we don't only mention them in passing, but rather highlight them. Also, I like the parades.

I hate over aggrandizing of a group. The highlighting of a difference to the extent that it keeps itself separate.

I do not mind cultural expression, but I have never really liked parades for whatever reason, from Rose Bowl to Gay Pride, I just find it a bunch of blowing ones own horn(s).


Lastly, I think categorizing the extra signs that have been hung as deification (with plenty of ALL CAPS)is a tad hyperbolic, don't you? In my opinion, the most accurate description one could offer of the AH ramp's signage is closer to "it's a bit much".

It is a bit of an exaggeration in appellation, but 15 signs of that size when we are also having budget problems? How much do each of those signs cost?

You wanna pull the trump card? How many people could that have fed? And what was the reason for them OTHER than to appease a secular group? Maybe not Deification, but definite over-zealous martyrdom!



DS, do not get me wrong, there are many rules that do not make any sense and were once based on religion or other factors, but I doubt there would be many kids out there willing to point out that schools were usually let out in the summer to let the kids out to help work on the farm and beg to have schools open all year round! ;) (As well as pointing out that things like meter suspension were probably originally secular as well, and realization of that would only bring the activation of them all week long, not the removal of Saturday from the list... Although I am sure many parking regulations are suspended on saturday in Hasidic neighborhoods....)

Anywhooo..... $$$->Wasted.

Merry
October 1st, 2010, 07:17 AM
I think all caps is better. $27m is a lot of money.



$27 million to change NYC signs from all-caps

By JEREMY OLSHAN

The Capital of the World is going lower-case. Federal copy editors are demanding the city change its 250,900 street signs -- such as these for Perry Avenue in The Bronx -- from the all-caps style used for more than a century to ones that capitalize only the first letters.

Changing BROADWAY to Broadway will save lives, the Federal Highway Administration contends in its updated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, citing improved readability.

At $110 per sign, it will also cost the state $27.6 million, city officials said.
"We have already started replacing the signs in The Bronx," city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told The Post. 'We will have 11,000 done by the end of this fiscal year, and the rest finished by 2018."

http://www.nypost.com/rw/nypost/2010/09/30/news/photos_stories/cropped/perry_ave--300x300.jpg
$27 million to turn PERRY AV into Perry Av

It appears e.e. cummings was right to eschew capital letters, federal officials explain.

Studies have shown that it is harder to read all-caps signs, and those extra milliseconds spent staring away from the road have been shown to increase the likelihood of accidents, particularly among older drivers, federal documents say.

The new regulations also require a change in font from the standard highway typeface to Clearview, which was specially developed for this purpose.

As a result, even numbered street signs will have to be replaced.

"Safety is this department's top priority," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last year, in support of the new guidelines. "These new and updated standards will help make our nation's roads and bridges safer for drivers, construction workers and pedestrians alike."

The Highway Administration acknowledged that New York and other states "opposed the change, and suggested that the use of all upper-case letters remain an option," noting that "while the mixed-case words might be easier to read, the amount of improvement in legibility did not justify the cost."

To compensate for those concerns, in 2003, the administration allowed for a 15-year phase-in period ending in 2018.

Although the city did not begin replacing the signs until earlier this year, Sadik-Khan said they will have no trouble meeting the deadline, as some 8,000 signs a year are replaced annually simply due to wear and tear.

The new diminutive signs, which will also feature new reflective sheeting, may also reflect a kinder, gentler New York, she said.

"On the Internet, writing in all caps means you are shouting," she said. "Our new signs can quiet down, as well."

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/bronx/million_kuj8X4Z2VolVhXnCymfkvM?CMP=OTC-rss&FEEDNAME=#ixzz116Yh0di1

JCMAN320
October 1st, 2010, 07:51 AM
We have had those "new signs" here in Hudson County for years.

Ninjahedge
October 1st, 2010, 12:41 PM
It is basic BS.

I think the only real advantage is you can fit more letters onto a sign.

Quite honestly, simply keepingthe names simple is the best way to save lives. For the "milliseconds" that it takes to read a Caps sign you could easily make it up by not having "John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt Memorial Highway".

Merry
July 16th, 2011, 01:02 AM
For a Bereft Street Corner in Queens, a Red-Letter Day

By SYDNEY EMBER

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/07/16/nyregion/SCRABBLE/SCRABBLE-articleLarge.jpg
The Scrabble street sign in Jackson Heights in 2007. “No one knew what happened to it,” one neighborhood resident said.

The dominant physical presence in Jackson Heights, Queens, is the elevated No. 7 train over Roosevelt Avenue, but many residents have become familiar with a couple of smaller, whimsical neighborhood features. There is the bronze penguin sitting on a rock on the 75th Street median. And there is — or rather was — the street sign that commemorated Jackson Heights as the birthplace of Scrabble (http://www.anb.org/articles/20/20-01922-print.html).

The brown street sign, in the style of signs in historic districts, used to mark the intersection of 35th Avenue and 81st Street, near where a former architect named Alfred Mosher Butts devised the crisscrossing word game in 1938.

The sign denoted the Scrabble values of its letters, like so: 35T1H4 A1V4E1N1U1E1.

People in the community were proud of the sign, erected in 1995, but it mysteriously disappeared in 2008.

“No one knew what happened to it,” said Laura Cadorette, who has lived in Jackson Heights since 1992.
And, it seems, no one even knew who put it up.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission, the agency that finances the brown street signs, said it had no record of the sign, which fell within the Jackson Heights Historic District — as the sign itself noted in the black band on top, though without the Scrabble values.

The city’s Transportation Department, which authorizes street signs, said it had had nothing to do with the original sign’s installation. It did say that it removed unauthorized street signs wherever it found them, and that the sign, in fact, had never been authorized by the city. But the department said it had not taken down the sign.

“I think everybody believes it was either stolen or removed intentionally,” said Daniel Karatzas, a member of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group and an author of a history of the neighborhood.

On a neighborhood blog, one person suggested it had been moved to a corner with a triple word score.

Now, after clearing bureaucratic hurdles, the neighborhood is about to get its sign back. This spring, Councilman Daniel Dromm submitted a legislative request to the City Council’s Committee on Parks and Recreation to approve the reinstallation of the sign.

The request passed and made its way into legislation that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed on Monday.

The new sign will be fabricated by the Transportation Department.

When unveiled, probably in the fall, the sign will sit across from the Community United Methodist Church, where Mr. Butts first assigned point values to letters that would be crisscrossed on a board to form a countless combination of words.

Mr. Dromm said he hoped the sign would prompt dialogue and illuminate the area’s past.

“This is a big deal for us,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to know and understand the history of the community.”

Mr. Dromm said that during his campaign for City Council in 2009, constituents frequently asked him if he intended to have the sign replaced. Mr. Dromm is a Scrabble lover. When he was a teacher before entering politics, he taught his fourth-grade students the game. He promised he would do his best.

He contacted the Transportation Department, which guided him through the legislative process that ended with the mayor’s signature this week.

As for the bronze penguin of Jackson Heights, that was thought up by a former parks commissioner, Henry J. Stern, to honor the neighborhood’s Argentine population, because penguins can be found in the southern reaches of Argentina. Soon, the statue will again have company as a street curiosity in Jackson Heights.

Speaking of the Scrabble sign, Ms. Cadorette, who had contacted Mr. Dromm about replacing it, said: “It’s kind of an icon of one of the things that happened in the neighborhood. I think it’s great that they’re putting it back.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/16/nyregion/sign-in-queens-marking-birthplace-of-scrabble-is-coming-back.html?_r=1

Ninjahedge
July 21st, 2011, 08:56 AM
For something as simple as this.... how much time and money was spent to get something as simple as this done?

I think it is quaint, and a worthwhile commemoration, but the sad part is just how much manpower (and time) is needed for something as simple as this.... :(

Merry
September 9th, 2011, 07:57 AM
At once hilarious and deadly serious.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Jay Shells Bombs

We interrupt this week of reruns to bring the news that Manhattan was bombed last night--by Jay Shells (http://jayshells.com/)' newest urban etiquette signs.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-AcsNIPCg0hI/Tmi65uWNMqI/AAAAAAAAN68/FnprbKoBNHA/s320/screen-capture-3.jpg (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-AcsNIPCg0hI/Tmi65uWNMqI/AAAAAAAAN68/FnprbKoBNHA/s1600/screen-capture-3.jpg)
all photos by Jason Shelowitz

From Bleecker Street to Astor Place to Times Square, he's urging New Yorkers to "Pay Attention While Walking" (my favorite--can we get this on a T-shirt?) and "Don't Flick Your Butts on the Ground."

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KDmykSEUTls/Tmi7NAJErmI/AAAAAAAAN7M/Fk1QQYHBYp8/s320/screen-capture-5.jpg (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KDmykSEUTls/Tmi7NAJErmI/AAAAAAAAN7M/Fk1QQYHBYp8/s1600/screen-capture-5.jpg)

There's also "Pull Up Your Pants" and the mysterious "Clean Up After Your Horse." That last one, Jason told me, is not for the new landed gentry, as I assumed, but for "the nypd, who let their horses shit all over the place--usually bike lanes."

With all these helpful signs in place, the question is: Will New Yorkers pay attention? Or will they be too busy looking down at their iPhones?

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-95d5v0YLBmQ/Tmi7My8ZN3I/AAAAAAAAN7E/hzeD30nK-DA/s320/screen-capture-6.jpg (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-95d5v0YLBmQ/Tmi7My8ZN3I/AAAAAAAAN7E/hzeD30nK-DA/s1600/screen-capture-6.jpg)

http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2011/09/jay-shells-bombs.html

Ninjahedge
September 9th, 2011, 08:41 AM
I agree 100% on the pants, butts and horse.

After blading to work for a few years I always wondered why everyone else had to have a crap-bag for their horses but the cops.

I can understand that if they were needed to chase after someone or something that that bag may be a hindrance, but we are not talking the royal guard here. Either have something to catch it or have that guy from Bullwinkle come out with his little trash can and wiggley mustache and clean it up.

Merry
April 9th, 2012, 02:33 AM
Despite lacking in the courtesy of written or oral communication, I think they got the message about ambiguity...eventually :).


Behind the Steering Wheel and Not a Grammarian in Sight

By CARA BUCKLEY

Yana Paskova for The New York TimesMark Vincent, a chiropractor who lives in Park Slope, with the 1992 Honda that he and his wife inherited from her father. He appealed a parking ticket and towing fee, challenging the definition of a word on the sign.

It was a dark Sunday evening in early October when Mark Vincent reluctantly set off on a city chore shared by some and lamented by many: moving his car to abide by alternate-side parking rules. Mr. Vincent lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn; his car is a maroon 1992 Honda that he and his wife inherited from her father after her father could no longer drive.
Not that the couple drives it much.

“We spend most of our time parking it,” said Mr. Vincent, 48, a chiropractor who generally bikes to his job in the West Village.

On that Sunday night, the parking prospects were slim, as they often are in the slope. Half an hour into his task, Mr. Vincent was still puttering along the streets with nary a parking spot in sight. Then suddenly before him there appeared a space right by his street, alongside Prospect Park. Mr. Vincent felt a burst of relief that soon gave way to trepidation after he caught sight of a sign. “No standing,” it read, “April to October.”

Mr. Vincent wondered what exactly that “to” meant, dithered for a bit, and then decided that it meant no parking until October began, which meant that that day, Oct. 2, was fair game. So he slid the car into the space, walked home and went to bed. The next morning, the car was still there, unticketed, so Mr. Vincent concluded his interpretation had been right, and went on his way.

The next time he checked, a day or so later, the car was gone. After some sleuthing, he discovered that it had been towed at the city’s behest to a lot in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It cost $225 to get out, and was bearing a parking ticket for $115.

Mr. Vincent had fought a couple of parking tickets before, and as he pondered his options this time, a local weekly, The Brooklyn Paper, reported on Oct. 10 (http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/34/41/dtg_ppwparking_2011_10_14_bk.html) that other drivers shared his plight and that the city had said that the restriction actually expired on Oct. 1.

So Mr. Vincent decided to appeal. It was a matter of principle, but also of grammar. He had consulted the grammarians in his life – a friend in publishing, a journalist, and his wife (“She’ll correct you,” he said of his wife. “It’s charming.”) — and they all agreed that the “to” in “April to October” meant “up until.” In his appeal he included definitions of “to” and “through” from the Oxford and Merriam-Webster’s dictionaries and Dictionary.com.

“Every accepted printed dictionary supports my grammatical interpretation of the parking sign,” he wrote. “To: Up to but not including. Through: To and including.”

By that time, the no-standing sign had been taken down, which Mr. Vincent figured bolstered his case. But his first appeal was denied. By way of explanation, he said, the adjudicator wrote, “If there is no specified end date indicated, the regulation should be read to include the entire month.”

Mr. Vincent appealed again, and again his appeal was denied.

He wrote a letter to the City Finance Department’s deputy chief administrative law judge, Brian Keeney, and got a curt response, he said, that he had exhausted his appeals.

Mr. Vincent does have one last shot: he can appeal to the State Supreme Court. The filing fee, he said, is $305, money he would get back if a judge awarded him the costs.

“My dream is that one of these people will have a conversation with me,” Mr. Vincent said.

Representatives of the city’s Finance and Transportation Departments both said that in such cases, the interpretation of the law falls on the judge. Left unresolved is the matter of what the “to” in the sign actually meant. When asked about it, a spokesman for the Transportation Department did not respond.

In the meantime, a new sign has appeared in the old one’s stead. “No Standing,” it reads, “April 1-Sept. 30.”

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/behind-the-steering-wheel-and-not-a-grammarian-in-sight/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Ninjahedge
April 9th, 2012, 10:23 AM
Oh that is classic.

So to make everything clear, they will not give him his money back, AND they made a sign that says EXACTLY WHAT THE OTHER ONE DID.

Using up appeals should not count if the appeal was handled by an idiot.

eddhead
April 16th, 2012, 10:13 AM
The beuarcracy that is the PVB is just mind numbing.

Merry
July 7th, 2012, 01:11 AM
No excuse for spelling someone's name incorrectly.


Sants Alve, or the Case of the Decade-Old Error

By DAVID W. DUNLAP

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/06/29/blogs/20120629Pierre01/20120629Pierre01-blog480.jpg
David W. Dunlap/The New York Times A street sign at what should be
“Pierre Toussaint Square,” at Church and Barclay Streets.

How the city looks and feels — and why it got that way.

On the way to covering a crane accident at 4 World Trade Center last week, I spotted this sign for the first time, at Church and Barclay Streets. It is supposed to honor Pierre Toussaint (http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/05/21/venerable-pierre-toussaint/) (1766-1853), who was born into slavery in Haiti and brought to New York, where he gained his freedom and performed acts of such great charity that he is a candidate for sainthood.

Honor him it does. Except for a missing “i.”

“Shame on me for not seeing it,” said Elizabeth H. Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance, which manages the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Business Improvement District and is responsible for installing and maintaining the specially designed street signs.

Ms. Berger said that the sign was put up about 10 years ago and that I was the first to bring the spelling error to the attention of the alliance. “How did we get it misspelled?” she said. “I don’t know. Maybe we had no French majors.” She said it would be fixed within a month.

(The New York Times made the same mistake, on Aug. 5, 1963 (http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30614F63D5B1B7A93C7A91783D85F47 8685F9). It has taken nearly 49 years to acknowledge it.)

Toussaint is not the only victim of official misspelling. Finlandia Street has been rendered “Filandia,” Frederick Douglass Boulevard has been rendered “Frederick Douglas” and Edgar Allan Poe Street has been rendered “Edgar Allen Poe.”

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/06/29/blogs/20120629Pierre02/20120629Pierre02-custom1.jpg
David W. Dunlap/The New York Times A plaque honoring
Toussaint on St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church.

The intersection of Barclay and Church Streets is named for Toussaint because he attended St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, which stands on the corner. A plaque attesting to this may be useful to the sign installers from the Downtown Alliance if they want to double-check their handiwork.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/sants-alve-or-the-case-of-the-decade-old-error/?smid=tw-nytmetro&seid=auto

Merry
August 15th, 2012, 06:06 AM
Throughout the City, a New Generation of Street Signs

By DAVID W. DUNLAP

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/08/03/blogs/20120803Sign02/20120803Sign02-custom1.jpg
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/08/08/blogs/20120803Sign08/20120803Sign08-custom1.jpg
David W. Dunlap/The New York Times Comparing new (top)
and old street signs in Greenwich Village.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/08/03/blogs/20120803Sign01/20120803Sign01-articleInline.jpg
Robert Caplin for The New York
Times Old (top) and new sign styles.

This message is addressed to New Yorkers who were more surprised to see a street sign with uppercase and lowercase letters than they were to learn that an intersection in Harlem had been named for Judge Bruce McM. Wright (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/01/nyregion/justice-bruce-wright-memorialized-with-harlem-streetcorner.html):

Get used to it.

Mixed-case signs, mandated by the Federal Highway Administration, are the wave of the future. To date, about 11,000 street name signs have been installed around all five boroughs to meet national standards in typography and surface reflectivity. Often, the new signs replace those that were scheduled to be swapped out as a matter of routine maintenance. They are also installed when streets themselves are under repair or reconstruction. But sometimes, the new signs appear to have replaced perfectly serviceable older signs with all-uppercase lettering. In any case, there is no telling when all 250,000 street name signs in New York City will have been changed.

The New York City Department of Transportation has gone one step further than changing letter case. For its new signs, it has chosen to use a typeface called Clearview (licensed as ClearviewHwy). It was created, beginning in the 1990s, by the designers Donald Meeker and James Montalbano, working with the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

“With its crisp, clean design, Clearview represents exactly what its name suggests,” the city’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, said in a statement. “Whether through our signs, markings or sidewalks, we’re bringing clarity and simplicity to street design.”

Mr. Meeker said in an e-mail a few weeks ago: “I noticed the street name sign in the paper. We are very pleased to see the use of Clearview in the city.”

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/08/03/blogs/20120803Sign04/20120803Sign04-custom1.jpg

Meeker & Associates Bergaults is a fictional place (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/21/automobiles/21SIGN.html), but illustrations like this are used to compare the legibility of Clearview with the standard FHWA alphabet.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/08/08/blogs/20120803Sign07/20120803Sign07-articleInline-v2.jpg
The city uses a more condensed version of Clearview, 2-W.

Clearview’s primary mission is to improve on the legibility of the standard alphabet used for traffic signs, known officially as the FHWA series but colloquially as Highway Gothic. The federal government does not require the use of Clearview, but has permitted its application since 2004. In discussing its policy (http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/clearviewdesignfaqs/index.htm#q4), the highway agency said there were demonstrable gains in legibility when mixed-case Clearview letters appeared on a reflective surface called microprismatic sheeting (https://www.google.com/search?q=microprismatic+sheeting&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a). (It is actually formed of countless minute prisms, rather than embedded glass beads.)

Sign design nationwide is governed by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009r1r2/pdf_index.htm), the latest version of which states: “The lettering for names of places, streets, and highways on conventional road guide signs shall be a combination of lowercase letters with initial uppercase letters.” [Page 138 in this PDF (http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009r1r2/mutcd2009r2chpt2d.pdf).]

For a lot of people, this smacked of precisely the kind of regulation that gives the federal government a bad name: ordering state and local governments to spend money they do not have. “New Yorkers outraged as bureaucrats order city to change lettering on every single street sign,” The Daily News (http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-09-30/local/27076751_1_new-signs-road-safety-34th-street-partnership) reported — not entirely accurately — on Sept. 30, 2010.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/08/03/blogs/20120803Sign06/20120803Sign06-articleInline.jpg
Meeker & Associates Sample of 3-W,
a medium-weight version of the Clearview face.

The highway administration, an agency of the federal Department of Transportation, was greeted with waves of criticism and has since eased or eliminated many deadlines (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/30/us/30cuts.html?_r=1) for compliance, granting much more leeway in permitting nonconforming signs to remain until they are physically worn out. “We spoke to state and local officials across the country, and we heard them loud and clear,” Ray LaHood, the transportation secretary, said in May as he announced the elimination of 46 regulations (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/fhwa1222.htm).

The development of Clearview was a saga itself (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/12/magazine/12fonts-t.html). So it was an especially sweet moment for Mr. Montalbano about two years ago when he was crossing the East River from Brooklyn, where he lives. “I remember coming off the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing a little sign, almost haphazard, saying, ‘Chinatown,’ with an arrow. It was in Clearview and I thought, ‘Wow!’” About a month ago, Mr. Montalbano added, he began noticing Clearview signs on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights.

“It’s very exciting,” he said in a telephone interview early this month. “We’ve been working on this project for a very long time.”

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/08/03/blogs/20120803Sign05/20120803Sign05-blog480.jpg
David W. Dunlap/The New York Times Left: A sign for Clinton Street mistakenly capitalized the “St.”
Right: From now on, historic district signs will be in upper- and lowercase letters, but they will stay recognizably brown.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/08/09/blogs/20120803Sign09/20120803Sign09-blog480.jpg
David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

The New York City Transportation Department sign shop might next want to decide — once and for all — whether street and avenue designations should be mixed case or all uppercase, whether they should “float” at the top of the sign or align with the bottom, and whether they should be smaller than the street name or the same size. The agency has time to choose. There are still 239,000 street name signs to install.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/14/throughout-the-city-a-new-generation-of-street-signs/

Ninjahedge
August 15th, 2012, 12:49 PM
Waste of $.

Both replacing the perfectly functional, and addition/dedication of roads to XYZ. I do not want to look for YacketySchmackety way, I want 34th street... :P

mariab
August 15th, 2012, 08:02 PM
Someone emailed something like this to me years ago. We mostly only read the first & last letter of each word because subconciously we already know what that word's supposed to be. As a driver, the street signs with the lower case letters are easier to read, causing less of a slowdown on my part.

Numbered streets should stay numbers, but the named streets - if I may be bold - will be easier & faster for drivers to read if the first & last letter of the name were upper case. Using lower case would also enable the letters to be placed further apart, making it even more easy. The signs with all upper case are more difficult because they're just a bunch of block characters pressed together, and you can't read it until you're almost upon it.

Check this out. You'll be surprised how well you do. Fascinating.
Can you read this?
Sun, 10/19/2008 - 00:00 — Chris McCarthyhttp://ecenglish.com/learnenglish//userfiles/image/jumbled.jpg
Take a look at this paragraph. Can you read what it says? All the letters have been jumbled (mixed). Only the first and last letter of ecah word is in the right place:
I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.
Show Correct Paragraph >>

http://www.ecenglish.com/learnenglish/lessons/can-you-read

Ninjahedge
August 16th, 2012, 09:19 AM
I read that before, but there is a debunking on this as well.

If you construct the sentences in a way where the words are common typos, and the context allows you to reconstruct the meaning, you will be able to do exactly what this paragraph does.

http://homesteadbound.hubpages.com/hub/Word-Play-Scrambled-Letters-Message-in-Numbers-Numbers-and-Letters

Gives a bit about it, but if you look around, you will see more.

Sometimes it is the "shape" of the word that matters more than the position of the first and last letter. Sometimes I can read a word because I see where the "d"s and "p"s are due to their stems. It is interesting though....

mariab
August 16th, 2012, 04:22 PM
^True. That link provided some good text. I faltered only a little on the first, not at all on the second, more on the manslaughtering doctor, but the one with the numbers I barely got through.

Makes an even better case of having the first & last letter of the sign upper case. Whatever they do, the letters just need to be further apart. The flow of traffic will be smoother if the signs are easier to read.

Ninjahedge
August 17th, 2012, 09:14 AM
Instead of having "John Q. Public Memorial Drive" all on one 18" wide sign? ;)