9. Shields of the Organization of American States (OAS)

In 1959, John H. Muller, the finance chairman of the coats-of-arms committee of the Avenue of the Americas Association, presented Mayor Robert F. Wagner with a reproduction of a shield bearing the coat of arms of the Organization of American States. This was the first step in a goal to place the three foot porcelain enamel shields on 300 light posts along Sixth Avenue. The 300 shields were to display the coats of arms of each of the twenty-two nations in the Western Hemisphere. It was thought that placing the shields “can only do good” given the economic and political uncertainties of the time in some of the South and Central American countries and because “no one in his right senses – outside the Communist fold – wants deliberately to be on bad terms with the United States.”

Today, only 22 of the original 300 remain, a casualty of a lamp replacement program in the early 1990s. Walking along the street you can no longer find shields representing countries including Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico and El Salvador and others such as Canada, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Surimane depict out of date versions of their countries shields.