A tenement sign high up at the corner of First Street and First Avenue

The corner of First Street and First Avenue is roughly the borderline of the East Village. And what better than an old-school address sign like this one affixed to a handsome brick building to welcome you to the neighborhood as you leave the Lower East Side behind?

These early 20th century address markers can be found on many tenement corners throughout New York City. In some cases, they may have served to let elevated train riders know exactly where they were passing.

Or perhaps these signs—sometimes raised and embossed, other times carved into the building—simply let pedestrians know where they stood in an era when reliable street signs had not yet arrived to ever corner in poor neighborhoods.

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8 Responses to “A tenement sign high up at the corner of First Street and First Avenue”

  1. Nick Sherman Says:

    The intersection of First & First is also the setting for a scene in Seinfeld (season 9, episode 19), when Kramer gets lost downtown and figures he “must be at the nexus of the universe”:

  2. Joe Ruiz Says:

    There’s a famous bit from “Seinfeld” where Kramer gets lost and finds himself on the corner of 1st and 1st. “Must be the nexus of the universe.”

  3. Matthew Says:

    How can a street intersect with itself? We must be at the nexus of the universe!

  4. E Says:

    It’s the nexus of the universe! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqcLcXPL3S0

  5. countrypaul Says:

    Did builders or landlords erect those signs, or did the city? They are still common – and sufficient – in many places in Europe. Just wondering….

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I imagine it was the builders because many of these signs are still with us, and they have different styles.

  6. Robin Strickler Says:

    This is a common way of identifying streets in the Netherlands. Since New York has Dutch roots, could it be that they did what they’d seen in Holland?

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