Cross streets carved into tenement corners

Before reliable metal street signs were put up on every corner of the city letting you know exactly where you were, it was probably pretty helpful to have the cross street names chiseled into the corner of a tenement or warehouse.

Now, of course, the cross street carvings have outlived their usefulness. They’re worn down by the elements, but it’s always a treat to look up and see one.

Like this sign on Market and Madison Streets, on a rundown tenement:


The carving at Third Avenue is missing its counterpart—it should read 110th Street:


This one at Fifth Street and First Avenue isn’t carved into the corner. The numbers look old, but not that old—perhaps the original corner blocks were replaced and new street numbers put up:


The loveliest street corner sign, of course, is in Tribeca, on Hudson and Beach Streets.

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9 Responses to “Cross streets carved into tenement corners”

  1. Force Tube Avenue Says:

    Thanks for the signs. Sometimes, the signs come with a bonus, when a defunct street name is carved into the building. Some examples are: Harrison Street (now Kane Street) and Cheever Place, in Brooklyn; Harris Avenue (43rd Avenue) and Vernon Avenue (now Boulevard) in Queens; and many more.

  2. petey Says:

    there are some of these also in the 70s and 80 on the far east side, tho’ off the top of my head i can’t remember the intersections.

  3. Christopher Says:

    San Francisco carves, staps, or imprints with metal, the street names into the sidewalk on ALL of its street corners. I always liked this. As it keeps your eyes focused on the ground, you don’t have look like tourist staring up to find the street names. It’s sort of a subtle wayfinding system.

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Signs for streets that no longer exist? I’m going to go out to Kane and Cheever and Vernon Blvd and take a look!

  5. PizzaBagel Says:

    I’ve seen several on Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn, between Grand Street and Johnson Avenue, with one of its former names, Ewen Street. Those at 925 Manhattan Avenue (@ Kent Street) and 946 Manhattan Avenue (@ Java Street) read “Union Av.”

    More than a few in Williamsburg have the old numerical streets:

    * Wythe Avenue (@ N. 8 St.) was Second Street
    * Berry Street (@ N. 9 St., N. 6 St., N. 1 St., Grand St., S. 1 St., S. 2 St., S. 4 St.) was Third Street
    * Bedford Avenue (@ N. 8 St., N. 4 St.) was Fourth Street
    * Roebling Street (@ Fillmore Pl.) was Sixth Street
    * Hooper Street (@ S. 3 St.) was Seventh Street
    * Keap Street (@ Broadway) was Tenth Street
    * Hewes Street (@ S. 5 St.) was Twelfth Street

    It’s interesting how in Queens they went from named streets to numbered ones, but the pattern was reversed in Williamsburg.

    Check out the one at 45-01 23rd Street in Long Island City. The 23rd Street side reads “Ely Av.” and the one on 45th Avenue reads “12 St.”

    There are many others with their old names that I’ve photographed in my travels around town. They are a special treat to discover!

  6. Dan Says:

    Although not a street sign, I’ve always enjoyed the corner sign on the building at 24th and 6th Avenue that reads “The Corner.” When Chelsea was known as Satan’s Circus then the Tenderloin and this was part of a beer garden and the
    Koster & Bial’s Music House. K&B moved up to Herald Square where Macy’s is today. And the corner once had its raunchy past kept alive by Billy’s Topless strip joint. Today the only thing steamy at the site is the foam on cappuccino.

    • wildnewyork Says:

      I love that one too. I’ve taken a ton of photos of it intending to do a post on its history, but they always come out too dark and then I forget to go back on a sunnier day and take more. From Koster & Bial’s to Billy’s Topless. That place has seen a lot! Love your 14th Street photos.

  7. The old-school soda sign of a Brooklyn grocery | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] corner-cut street signs can be seen all over New York’s oldest […]

  8. Manhattan street names on tenement corners | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] there’s an actual name for these cross streets carved or affixed to the corners of some city buildings, I don’t know what it […]

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