Manhattan street names on tenement corners

If 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 is.


But they’re fun to spot anyway. I’ve never seen one quite like this decorative sign on an otherwise unremarkable tenement at 169th Street and Broadway.


Fancy, right? This one at Horatio and Washington Streets is also a notch above the usual corner address sign, which is typically carved into the facade in a plain font.


A good example of the traditional style is this one below, worn and so faded it’s hard to see the letters, at Mott and Bleecker Streets.


I’ve heard that these street signs are up high because they were meant to be seen from elevated trains. But there were no trains running on Mott and Bleecker, or Horatio and Washington.


Or West End Avenue and 82nd Street, for that matter. This is a beauty of a sign that’s survived the elements on the circa-1895 facade of former Public School 9, now strangely called the Mickey Mantle School.

Some of my favorites are carved into tenements in the East Village. And of course, the loveliest in the city is at Hudson and Beach Streets.

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17 Responses to “Manhattan street names on tenement corners”

  1. Benjamin Feldman Says:

    “College Place” at West Broadway and Warren is the most remarkable quoin: a palimpsest of the last days of Columbia College’s almost 90 years downtown before it moved into the old NY Deaf and Dumb Asylum on 49th and Madison and then moved to Morningside Heights…

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Ah yes, I have that one in the archives somewhere, another favorite and a forgotten stretch of Lower Manhattan!

  3. marygerdt Says:

    Like signing a work of art. When we patched our foundation and put in a missing cornerstone, I had to scratch our initials FC MG ’99. Etched in my mind, subtle, history. We were here. Thank you.

  4. Force Tube Avenue Says:

    Hi I also like looking at these street signs. A particular favorite is an intersection that has been renamed, as Mr. Feldman cites. I have a photo of the street-quoin at the intersection of “Fourth Street” and North 4th Street, Williamsburg. Fourth Street has since been renamed as Bedford Avenue. I’d love to share a photo; let me know if that’s possible.

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Yes, send it over, very cool! You can email it to ephemeralnewyork @ gmail or tweet, or FB.

  6. Force Tube Avenue Says:

    Great. I just emailed the photo. Cheers

  7. mikeh (@rothmere) Says:

    They’re referred to as cornerstone placements/signs. Like they precede street/avenue street corner signage. Great blog thanks.

  8. Matthew Greenbaum Says:

    The public school on York and 78 St. has a similar carving, showing “Avenue A” on the York Avenue side. The name was changed in honor of I lived on Avenue A as a kid, and more than a half-century later I still do, except four miles north.

  9. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Great story, I had no idea the street was named for a Tennessee native.

  10. Benjamin Feldman Says:

    I had the honor of shaking Sgt. Alvin York’s hand from his wheelchair in Jamestown TN during a Fourth of July Parade in about 1960. A modest hero if here ever was, a local native.

  11. Mike Says:

    There’s one at Greenwich Street and charles street which was for 9th avenue el passengers

  12. Manhattan street names on tenement corners — Ephemeral New York – Jeffrey Liss Says:

    […] via Manhattan street names on tenement corners — Ephemeral New York […]

  13. Reading a tenement on the Lower East Side | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] a whole bunch more, some fanciful and lovely, others more […]

  14. trilby1895 Says:

    Could be New York copied this from London street corner buildings as I viewed similar street IDs while walking there. Also occurred to me that incised street names were used to discourage ruffians from disfiguring the information located at street level both in London and New York.

  15. Kenny Says:

    Absolutely love these articles and pictures.
    Off the top of my head these street signs are also on the corners of: Prince and Mulberry (or is it Mott, carved into the cemetery wall), Beach and Hudson Streets (very ornate), Fourth Ave (Park Ave South) and 23rd Street…

  16. The relics on tenements at a Lenox Hill corner | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] tenements with cross streets on them can be found in Manhattan and Brooklyn—especially in older neighborhoods like Williamsburg, downtown Brooklyn, the East […]

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