Yesterday a thread came up on Reddit in which the user asked, “I noticed this light at the end of a dead end street. What is the light for?” We thought it would be a perfect Cities 101 topic to talk about traffic signals and what purpose these lights serve. As a few commenters posted, these lamps are an added precaution to signal drivers that the street ends. In dangerous road conditions, such as low visibility, these lights come in handy where typical “Dead End” signs would be hard to see.

These lamps are on all day long, allowing drivers the chance to stop in time to avoid collision with the end of the road. The ones pictured in this post are along the East Side of Manhattan, preventing drivers from careening out of control into the FDR Drive or the East River. They’re often spotted at places like these: streets that end above grade, on a cliff, or river-side.

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