Is this the oldest sign in a city subway station?

This torn, faded anti-littering poster is still adhered to a beam between the F and G tracks at the Seventh Avenue station in Park Slope.

“Litter Is a Hazard Here” it reads, an arrow pointing to the tracks. Apparently, riders decades ago were just as likely to toss trash on the tracks as riders are today.

The sign is part of a series of “Subway Sun” messages first launched by the IRT in the teens, according to this Princeton University Library blog, which also provides a little backstory and images of other Subway Sun posters.

So how old is the Park Slope sign? I’m guessing it dates to the 1940s, and it just might be older than these vintage signs found in another Brooklyn F station that warn riders not to spit or lean over toward the tracks.

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16 Responses to “Is this the oldest sign in a city subway station?”

  1. Josie Says:

    See the little Chiclets gum vending machine on the dark, bolted metal column, in the upper part of the picture? I remember the open-topped metal box affixed below the machine, which was for the purpose of receiving the waste – presumably the little cardboard boxes that were dispensed from the machine, each holding two Chiclets.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Ah, very good eye!

  3. Josie Says:

    P.S. The vending machines were attached to those subway platforms around the turn of the last century, to sell gum. I’m not sure when the tiny boxes containing two candy-coated pieces of Chiclets gum (for two cents a box) were stocked in those vending machines. I want to say they were there in the 1940s but I’m not absolutely certain of that. Definitely they were there in the 1950s and into the 1960s. They were at least in the process of disuse and removal in the 1970s.

  4. prb Says:

    this sign was fully intact just a few years ago. the damage there looks very recent.

  5. Lisa Says:

    About a year ago, in London, renovations uncovered a great cache of 1950’s posters. Perhaps there’s similar time-capsule somewhere beneath New York, just waiting to be unearthed!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1286535/Notting-Hill-posters-1950s-artwork-Tube-station.html

    • wildnewyork Says:

      These are super cool. There must be a similar stash in one of the abandoned subway stations here in NYC, somewhere….

  6. Andrew Porter Says:

    Obscured by time is the third part of the sign, at upper left, which reads on the trash can, “throw paper here”.

  7. Doug D Says:

    i have a shot of one like it but less chipping, on the A,C,E line

  8. Pee Wee Reese Says:

    There are 2 Subway Sun signs still intact but dirty on the A/C line in Brooklyn at the Kingston-Throop stop on the Manhattan bound side.

  9. Linkage: 2010: Not Great for Construction Spending; Harlem’s Dog Invasion - The Broker Buddy Says:

    [...] Columbia’s Manhattanville foundation work will take until fall 2013 [Harlem Bespoke] · What the oldest sign in an NYC subway station looks like [ENY] · Tickets now being handed out for biking outside bike lanes [Runnin' Scared] · [...]

  10. T.J. Connick Says:

    The sinister potential of the vending machines is realized in Paul Bowles’s short story, “If I Should Open My Mouth”.

  11. Peter B. Says:

    I well remember those hand-drawn signs, with their characteristic, steel pen lettering, in subway stations. They were all signed “Oppy,” as I recall. (The artist was said to be a woman named Oppenheimer, if memory serves correctly.) Probably collector’s items, now.

  12. WHAMMO! Says:

    I remember buying Chicklets from those dispensers in the 70s.

  13. matt Says:

    theres a more worn version of this same sign on the toward Manhattan side of the F station at Ft Hamilton Parkway, 2 stops after the 7th Ave station referenced above.

  14. Allan Says:

    That sign is from after 1953. If you look under”The Subway Sun” title you will see “New York City Transit Authority”. The NYCTA was created in July 1953.

    There are 2 more of these signs – at the Broadway station on the G line. Located about mid-platform on the pillars between the uptown and downtown tracks (one sign on each side).

    The oldest known signs on the system that are still in place are are IRT signs dating from 1918 and 1920. These are cobalt blue with white lettering.

    “NOTICE ALL PERSONS ARE FORBIDDEN TO ENTER UPON OR CROSS THE TRACKS INTERBOROUGH RAPID TRANSIT CO”

    The signs are faded but readable.

    You’ll forgive me if I withhold the locations of these IRT signs. The last time I made it public where an old sign was it disappeared a short time later and did not end up within any part of the MTA. I would rather they end up in the Transit Museum’s archives rather than on EBAY.

  15. Allan Says:

    UPDATE

    The Subway Sun sign (shown at the top of this page) at the 7th Av station in Park Slope on the F is no longer there. It was probably removed when the coaxial cables for the radio system were replaced.

    The one mentioned by Matt on 11/4/11 n the northbound side of Fort Hamilton Parkway station is also no longer there – most likely for the same reason as at 7th Av.

    There is only 1 sign at the Kingston-Throop station (Pee Wee Reese’s post of 4/27/11). It is on the southbound side. On the northbound side the frame where the sign was is still in place.

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