In the early 20th Century, New York City street signage was in desperate need of an overhaul. The introduction of the automobile had created a need for clear, easy-to-read signage that the existing signs failed to fulfill. In the early 1910s, New York County—which then covered the boroughs of Manhattan and The Bronx—began posting signs of a type now commonly referred to as the “humpback” style. These porcelain signs were dark blue with white, hand-painted text. The name of the street the sign was mounted parallel to (and thus visible to traffic on the intersecting street) was painted on the bottom in large letters. Above that, in smaller letters, was the name of the street perpendicular to the sign, so that traffic could also see the name of the street they were currently on. The entire sign was hung from lampposts with a heavy iron bracket. The text was visible through cut-out holes in the bracket. These signs were still in active production through the 1950s; thereafter, advances in reflective signage and a need for greater standardization led to their replacement with the more modern styles seen today.
This particular humpback sign appeared at the corner of West 34th Street and 7th Avenue in New York. It faced traffic along 7th Avenue, running parallel to 34th Street. This intersection is located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, and is the location of the Macy’s flagship store. This store was a central setting of the classic 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street. Visible from the intersection is the Empire State Building, only two blocks to the east. The intersection is also within easy walking distance of Penn Station, the central hub of the New York transit system and the busiest transportation facility in the Western Hemisphere.
A classic humpback sign hasn’t hung over the intersection of 34th Street and 7th Avenue for many years. That’s why we’ve brought it back to life for your enjoyment. Our replica is printed on heavy steel with a glossy, non-reflective finish that closely resembles the original porcelain. The shape of the sign and the text have been painstakingly recreated from photos of the surviving examples. Take a step back in time and relive the days of the classic New York humpback sign with our replica West 34th Street and 7th Avenue sign!
Our sign is available in two sizes: the original 22-inch-long size, and a scaled-down 16½-inch version. You can also choose from right-facing (mounting holes on the left) and left-facing (mounting holes on the right) versions, as well as a double-sided version, just like the originals. (Want a size other than those listed here? Or a classic New York humpback sign from another intersection? Or even a classic street sign from a completely different city? We’ve got you covered! Just contact Jake to get started on your custom order.)