8. There’s An “Oy Vey” Sign On The Bridge
For 12 years, from 2001 to 2013, Marty Markowitz, a passionate Brooklynite, served as the Brooklyn Borough President with a personal touch, celebrating the borough in every way possible. Known for his wild ideas, you might recall when Markowitz decided to put fun signs on the bridges connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan (or vice versa, depending on the way you see it). The Williamsburg Bridge received the one pictured above, proclaiming “Oy Vey!” to those leaving Brooklyn and entering Manhattan.
A few other quirky signs were put up at the entrance of the lower and upper levels of the Verrazano Bridge reading “Leaving Brooklyn/ Fuhgeddaboudit!” following the popularity of the “Welcome to Brooklyn” signs Markowitz put up previously with phrases like “How Sweet It Is” and “Believe the Hype.” It was a person’s response to the “Fuhgeddaboudit!” sign that prompted Markowitz to create the “Oy Vey!” one.
According to the New York Times, a man called in and complained to Markowitz that the sign was anti-Italian, asking him “You’re Jewish Mr. Markowitz. How would you like a sign that says, ‘Leaving Brooklyn, oy vey’?” Markowitz’s response? “What a great idea. Thank you.”
However, “Oy Vey!” created tension with the City’s Department of Transportation, telling him that the signs were unnecessary and distracting. According to policies of the Federal Highway Administration, signs are mandated to offer useful information. Iris Weinshall, commissioner of the Department of Transportation at the time said, “‘Oy vey’ doesn’t give you any information.”
It should also be noted that studies have not yet shown if the number of accidents increased since the signs went up.