In the early 1910s, a newly-accessible technology emerged that changed the world—the automobile. One of these very changes involved making street signs large enough to be easily read from the vehicle at the much higher speeds that these newfangled devices traveled. New York County (which contained both Manhattan and The Bronx during this period) decided on this shape, affectionately referred to as the “humpback” style.
With this design, travelers could easily determine where they were, as long as they knew how to interpret the information presented. The cross-street (the larger text), as well as the street they were currently on (the text in the “hump”) were included on each hand-painted sign. In their heyday, these signs were hung from lampposts in heavy iron brackets all over the city. These “humpback” signs have become a beloved symbol of The Big Apple ever since. Sadly, this style was replaced when new, stricter standards for highway signs (as well as advances in technology such as reflective sheeting) came along.
Christopher and 7th doesn’t have a humpback street sign posted anymore, but with our recreation you can celebrate the old days when it stood proudly at the intersection of these two streets. Christopher and 7th is the intersection closest to the west side of the infamous Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in downtown Manhattan. The bar’s infamy is due to the police raid on June 28, 1969, and the resulting protests fighting for the right to live freely, regardless of sexual orientation. Even before the Stonewall riots, the business at 51 and 53 Christopher Street was no stranger to being a key part of the New York City “underground culture”. The Stonewall Inn started as a speakeasy disguised as a tearoom in 1930 in another part of town before they relocated to Christopher and 7th after the end of Prohibition. While the original owners have since sold the buildings, the lasting effects of the raid that instigated the Stonewall riots and protests in 1969 can still be felt today.
We have made a precise replica of the sign that hung proudly for many years at the corner of Christopher and 7th for your enjoyment. It is flat-printed on heavy steel with a glossy finish that beautifully replicates the old-school porcelain of the originals. The text style and layout have been painstakingly duplicated as well, using photos of the originals for reference. This sign is the closest thing you’ll get to the originals from the days of the speakeasy without breaking the bank or going through the hassle of acquiring a time machine!
We’ve made our Christopher and 7th humpback sign available in two sizes: the original 22-inch-long size, and a 16½-inch version, scaled down for those looking to save on money or space. For each of these sizes, we offer a variety of different configurations. A right-facing version, with mounting holes on the left, a left-facing version, with mounting holes on the right, and a double-sided version are all available for you to choose from. No matter the size or style, we include four pre-drilled mounting holes. Mount it flush against the wall with the two holes in the center, or in the traditional lamppost style with the two on the edge! (We can also make any other classic street from New York, or any other city you can think of! Just contact Jake to place your custom order.)