Untapped Cities contributor Laurie Gwen Shapiro recently tipped us off to a little fun fact, which her friend Marla Aaron — the mastermind behind the jewelry vending machine at the Brooklyn Museum — spotted in front of the New York Yankees Steak House near Rockefeller Center.
Turns out the interlocking “NY” logo, one of the most recognizable in the world that has become synonymous with the Yankees, is even older than the team itself. It was actually created by Tiffany and Co.’s Louis B. Tiffany to honor John McDowell, the first New York City policeman to be shot in the line of duty.
The design was used by the Highlanders, who were the Yankees’ predecessors. Initially, a separate N and Y were featured on either breast of each shirt, almost every season since 1903. It wasn’t until 1905 that the interlocking letters were used. This version of the logo, however, was short lived: the design was tossed for the next three seasons until 1909, when Bill Devery, a part-owner of the Highlanders and a former police chief, decided to bring the design of the interlocking “NY” back; it was first featured on the left sleeve of the jersey and the cap.
On April 11, 1912, the Yankees debuted at their home opener, their first time wearing the legendary pinstripes that would become one of the most famous uniform designs.
Between 1903 and 1922, the Yankees tried out various designs. They decided on the color—navy blue—and the overlapping “NY”, but they couldn’t decide on a place for it. Initially it was on the left sleeve of the team’s uniform; then it appeared on the left breast. In 1917, the Yankees removed the “NY” monogram from the jersey and kept it on the cap only, and kept their uniform plain and with pinstripes. The “NY” remained off the uniform except for the cap for the next 20 years until it was reinstated in 1936. (Babe Ruth played his entire career without ever wearing the legendary insignia on his jersey!)
The logo has been an incredibly important image in pop culture. In 1929, the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians were the first teams to make numbers a permanent part of the uniform. By 1932, uniform numbers became a part of many other team jerseys. Initially, these numbers had to do with the order of batting, but this logic was dropped not long after.