Faded phone exchange signs on dingy tenements

Lots of old tenements have them—metal signs advertising the name of the electrician or roofer or plumber who helped maintain the building.


These two were spotted in low-income Bronx neighborhoods. The sign above comes from a tenement near the Fordham Road D train stop. The ME is for the Melrose neighborhood in the South Bronx.


WY for Wyandotte on this sign, found near Third Avenue in Melrose. It’s also a Bronx exchange—but why Wyandotte, which connotes the Native American tribe Wyandot, who live in Canada?

The only reference I could find comes from a 1975 New York Times article bemoaning the disappearance of the more poetic and descriptive phone exchange names:

“ALgonquin was nice, too, suggesting Indians, as did LAckawanna and WYandotte,” writes John Corry. “WYandotte seemed to be used almost exclusively by the Irish who lived around Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Those Irish are vanishing; so is WYandotte.”

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5 Responses to “Faded phone exchange signs on dingy tenements”

  1. aspicco Says:

    I think I want better than that!

  2. aspicco Says:

    PS: On Staten Island I grew up with ELgin 1-4156 as my childhood phone number

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Hey, these are very modest electricians!

  4. Jeremy Says:

    I wonder if adequate isn’t so much modesty as referring to being rewired to meet “adequate wiring” standards set forth in the ’50s? http://blog.modernmechanix.com/adequate-wiring-means-business/

  5. okwari Says:

    Is it possible the name is Wyanbotte?
    I love the formal and non-bombastic language of these signs.

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