Old Hoboken Marbelite

When the City of Hoboken upgraded the traffic signals along Washington Street in 2018, I got to help out with the Hoboken Historical Museum Signal project.  The museum staff gave us several pieces of retired Hoboken traffic equipment as a token of their appreciation, including the circa 1947 Marbelite “4-way cluster” signal from Washington & 5th Streets.

The signal cluster 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 pretty psyched to be able to acquire get one of its four heads for my own collection.

Long Islanders Randy Trezak and Mike Natale brought the equipment to the 3-Lite Guy signal workshop and carefully dismantled the two 4-way clusters (the yellow one is an Econolite from the 1960s-70s).  Only when we had the 5th Street cluster in hand to inspect it did we realize it was branded Marbelite and not Horni.

While this signal might appear rather commonplace (its classic “Jersey” vibe notwithstanding), it has some uncommon features that betray its old age and make it very special to me. The door-mounted, deep reflector bowls and the latches fastened by large brass wing nuts both hearken back to New York City’s early red-green signals. And, while most sheet metal visors slope slightly away from the signal, these old Horni-style tunnel visors present a straight profile. A less obvious hint of its age is the original silver finish, which is buried under coats of red (primer?) and green. The last bonus is the fact that I remember this signal on Washington Street – one that DIDN’T get away!