An Untapped Cities reader recently contacted us about a vintage Times Square sign he had in his collection, passed down from his grandfather who acquired it. He wrote that the sign was in Times Square from 1904 to 1915, according to the New York Historical Society, but was looking for more information on it because he was looking to sell it. The sign has four sides, with cut-out letters that read alternatively with “42ND STREET” and “TIMES SQUARE.” The glass squares would have been illuminated from the interior of the sign similar to the Victorian-era street signs you can see in the photos from our previous article, “The History of NYC’s Street Signs.”
The shape of this sign is a little different from those older signs however, with each side angled slightly outwards. It seems to clearly be a evolution of the Victorian sign on the bottom right of the below image:
The other curiosity was that most of the photographs the reader sent us were taken in Las Vegas. The reader later explained that the photos include his grandfather and the mayor of Las Vegas. In the 1980s, his grandfather lent the sign for display on Fremont Street.
We looked at historical Times Square images from the Library of Congress, but could not locate one that included this sign. We’re stumped too so we’re reaching out to readers. If you have any information about the provenance of these types of street signs, let us know in the comments, by contacting us here, or via Twitter or Facebook.