This page features some of the traffic signals I either currently or have previously owned over the years.
- New York City 3-Way Red-Green Signal
- Hoboken Marbelite Flat-Top
- Crouse-Hinds Type DT
- Marbelite LPS-20 Pedestrian Signal
- GE Novalux
- Econolite Neon Pedestrian Signal
- Marbelite 2-Way Blinker
New York City 3-Way Red–Green Signal
Do you remember the old-fashioned two-color (red and green) traffic lights of New York City? Whenever I visited New York in the 1970s, besides the other “colorful sights” I might see, I was fascinated by the considerable number of amber-less traffic lights scattered throughout the city. These quaint fixtures were the vanishing remnants of the original GE and Horni/Ruleta signals installed from the 1920s into the ’40s. Although the city had standardized on 3-color signals way back in the early 1950s, it took over 40 years to replace all of the 2-color units.
In 2012, I spotted a Craigslist ad for a 3-way red-green NYC signal and I drove to New Hampshire to purchase it from a retired New Yorker. According to him, the light was taken down from Merrick Blvd in Laurelton, Queens in the mid-1970s and given to him on the spot by the contractor. This is evidently a later (1940s) variation of this type of signal. It has the Horni/Ruleta design, but has no manufacturer name stamped or embossed that I can find. The original wiring was plastic-coated, rather than the older cloth style.
There is a 2″ steel elbow at the top, indicating that it was mounted on an overhead mast. It was configured as a 3-way signal, with one of the four sides covered by aluminum “blanks”. To my surprise, there were lenses, reflectors, and light bulbs on all four sides (see photo set below).
New York City originally painted their signals either black or olive green. All of them were re-painted yellow in the 1960s during the reign of Traffic Commissioner Henry Barnes. I prefer the old fashioned look of the darker signals, so I stripped the yellow and black layers off and then brush painted it with glossy Rustoleum black.
Special thanks with this restoration goes out to:
- Gordon Loeffler, for rewiring the sockets
- Sean Breen, for making the customized controller
- Dave McPhail, for several rare-as-hen’s-teeth brass wing nuts to replace the missing ones
- and, last but not least, Ed Tapanes, for his assistance with getting this light dismantled, and for keeping his tongue off it, at least when I wasn’t looking
The Hoboken Marbelite “Flat-Top”
When the City of Hoboken upgraded the traffic signals along Washington Street in 2018, I was privileged to be a part of the Hoboken Historical Museum Signal project. As a token of appreciation for installing Hoboken’s oldest traffic signal in their museum, the museum staff gave us Hoboken’s second oldest signal; the 1940s Marbelite 4-way “cluster” from the corner of Washington and 5th!
The four of us divided up the cluster, and I put my single-face signal on top of a 4 1/2-foot pedestrian button post in my basement. It’s a typical New Jersey signal from that era, and a nice example of a Marbelite made right after they took over the traffic division of Horni Signal Corp. in 1947. There are several clues to its age, but the most obvious are the Horni-spec heavy glass reflectors mounted to the doors in 3-spoke frames. Other than some wire brushing and cleaning, I am keeping this signal in original, off-the-street condition, including the cockeyed orientations of the Kopp 66 lenses.
Crouse-Hinds “Type DT” Adjustable Signal
One of the first lights I ever bought was this ca. 1950 Crouse-Hinds Type DT. This very handsome art deco style signal, originally denoted as the “Type D”, was manufactured by Crouse-Hinds over a relatively long period from the 1930s into the ’50s. These D/DT lights were very common across the country, so they aren’t hard for collectors to find. With their classic beauty and their ample supply keeping prices reasonable, many collectors like myself consider them to be a “must have”.
This particular light has the visors that are each cast as a single piece with its door. There was also the option with the D/DT model to have removable sheet metal visors. The original lenses were the typical Crouse-Hinds lenses with the “small-bead smiley” pattern.
I replaced the smileys with a set of Crouse-Hinds STOP, CAUTION and GO command lenses. I also added a reproduction finial made of a plastic/resin material. While I’m not generally a fan of signals painted yellow, this always looked really good as-is, so I left the paint alone.
Marbelite LPS-20 Pedestrian Signal
The LPS-20 is the bi-modal incandescent pedestrian signal that Marbelite manufactured in the 1960s and ’70s, and originally patented as the “Lawdescent Lite“. The earlier version of this light came with frosted glass lenses. Later versions came with “shatterproof” fiberglass lenses, supposedly with protection from vandals’ rocks in mind (click on catalog page at right), but more likely as a cost-cutting measure.
The LPS-20 was the mainstay of New York City for a good 15 years, though it had a serious flaw. The original reflectors were made of plastic, and often became brittle and broke, and could melt or even ignite from contact with the light bulbs. Most collectors who find an LPS-20 need to find replacement reflectors, and thankfully, Steve Tutty from Colorado makes sturdy sheet metal reflectors to order – as seen in the photo to the right.
This is a solid cast signal from the 1930s that came to me in beautiful shape, already stripped, except for the visors. I painted it and mounted it to a post with a Highway Signal & Sign Co octagonal base. I ended up selling it to a friend who appreciates it as much as I do.
Econolite Neon Pedestrian Signal
Similar in many functional ways to the LPS-20 above, this form of pedestrian signal is obviously implemented differently in that it is illuminated by exposed neon tubes, as seen in many business signs. These nifty 1950s Econolite peds were very popular on the West Coast. I got mine so cheaply that sometime later I succumbed to the temptation to sell it to raise cash. Oh well, guess I didn’t really want one that badly…*sigh*