NJ Route 69 Shield (ca. 1953)

New Jersey Route 69? Where the heck is that? The 1953 NJ State Highway Renumbering re-designated the existing NJ Route 30, stretching 49 miles from Trenton to US Route 46 in Buttzville, as NJ Route 69. This re-designation was done to avoid confusion with US Route 30 in southern NJ. I suppose it didn’t take long, but coveted Route 69 signs started being stolen off the road in enough numbers that, fourteen years later, in 1967, the highway was re-designated again as NJ Route 31.

The NYCRoads website includes an email message from one person who attempted to steal a Route 69 sign:

When I got my driver’s license in 1960, it was already a rite of passage to steal a Route 69 sign, solely because of the sexual “69” position. I remember making a middle of the night trip to Route 69 with my girlfriend, who was to be my lookout while I unbolted the sign. So many signs had already been stolen, that on the back of each 69 sign was the stenciled warning, “HEAVY PENALTY FOR REMOVAL.” This warning was not found on other routes!  My tools were not up to the task, so I never did get a NJ 69 sign

The sign stealing on Route 69 may well have peaked when the class of 1969 was in school, and was probably the straw that broke the back of the very-slow-to-learn NJDOT and led to the re-designation as Route 31.

This shield is from the 1949 specification: 18″ round cast aluminum. It would have been made sometime between 1953, when Route 69 was first designated, and 1956, when the state switched over to flat green steel signs.

I am told that this was originally “owned” by a college student in the 1950s, the father-in-law of the woman who sold it to me. As you can see, it is awesome shape.