Old Hoboken Marbelite

When the City of Hoboken upgraded the traffic signals along Washington Street in 2018, I had the pleasure of helping install the 1930s Horni signal from Washington & 1st in the Hoboken Historical Museum.  As a token of their appreciation, the museum staff gave us several other pieces of retired traffic equipment, including the circa 1947 Marbelite 4-way “cluster” signal that was taken down from Washington & 5th.

This signal had spent an incredible 70+ years in service. As the photos above show, it was suspended from an aluminum truss mast after outliving its original steel guy-wire mast. It was one of the signals I took notice of whenever I was in Hoboken, and I was psyched to acquire one of the four heads comprising that cluster for my own collection.

Our treasures were stashed away for us in a dark corner of a Hoboken parking garage. Randy “3LiteGuy” Trezak and Mike Natale hauled them to Randy’s place on Long Island and carefully dismantled the two 4-way signal clusters; the old Marbelite along with a yellow Econolite from the 1960s-70s.

A few weeks later, I met up with Randy and took home my signal from the disassembled Marbelite cluster. I wasted no time in cleaning it up and wiring it into my basement display.

This light not only has a classic “Jersey” vibe and history, but it also it has some uncommon features, like the Horni style door-mounted reflectors, the large brass “Mickey Mouse” style wingnuts. The original silver finish is buried under a few coats of green and even red (primer?). I wish I could strip it down to the silver base, but that would be a lot of work with no guarantee of success, so my plan is to keep it in off-the-street condition.

Update: In June 2021, I had the good fortune to find green and amber Marbelite No. 6540 lenses. These are beautiful old lenses that do not adhere to the later ITE color specs. The amber is very dark, almost orange, although the image my phone captured below looks more like ginger ale. The green is truly emerald green; not cyan like most “green” lenses. As much as I would like to keep this signal 100% original, it is the natural home for the 6540 lenses. Now begins the journey to locate a red