This page is a collection of old signs and other nifty non-signal items found on, or collected from, the streets of New Jersey. A separate gallery of collected NJ highway shields is here.
Vintage NJ Sign Photos
Early days… This detail from a 1926 photograph in Kingston shows a mind-blowing array of quaint road furniture of the time: From left to right: A flashing beacon (manufacturer unknown) with instructions to call for repair, a set of wooden guidepost signs with distances to New Brunswick, Elizabeth, Newark, Rocky Hill, Somerville and Morristown, a first-generation NJ State Route 13 shield (which would soon be renumbered as NJ Route 27) on the bottom, and last, but not least, a Lincoln Highway marker.
RR crossing at 14th Street in Ocean City (photo grabbed from Facebook)
Changing of the guard… This photo, taken in December 1952 at the Milltown Circle in North Brunswick, shows signage in transition before the state’s highway renumbering of January 1953. Drivers here were being familiarized with the new designations of US Routes 130 and 1, which were replacing the old NJ Routes 25 and 26, respectively. The new US 1 and US 130 shields were using what I believe was the 1948 MUTCD specification of black print on white squares.
New Jersey didn’t stay with the white signs for long. It isn’t easy to even find photos of them, but above are a few that I have found.
- US and NJ highway shields in Jersey City.
- NJ Highway shields and a directional sign in Hazlet from a 1956 home movie
- A directional sign from Seaside Heights that was sold online.
- NJ US Route 30 shield and directional sign in south Jersey
- A New Brunswick signpost during the transition from white to green signs…. Before the ’50s ended, New Jersey had switched to green die cut signs. (Scroll down for more about those…)
- Directional sign to Newark Airport – photo by Ken Skutt
NJ Green Diecut Signs… By the late 1950s, New Jersey switched to green die-cut signs with numerals and borders in white reflective sheeting. I don’t know if these green signs adhered to the MUTCD specs of the day or not. This newspaper photo from Millville was published April 14, 1958, presumably in the middle of the transition period.
The green signs only lasted into the early 1960s, when NJ started using the new MUTCD standard, which had changed to the white-on-black squares we are familiar with today. I’m very pleased to have two signs from the green die-cut era in my collection. These have proven pretty tough to come by.
The State Seal adorns a bridge abutment on NJ Route 35 in Woodbridge. (Library of Congress photo, date unknown)
A cast metal SLOW DANGEROUS INTERSECTION sign is being painted in a NJ DOT archive photo on the left. Note the stacks of reflectors – Ed Tapanes has one of these in his collection. On the right, the same sign can be seen in service in Flemington in 1938.
- Cast iron signpost in Brielle getting sandblasted
- Cast iron sign near Middletown getting treated with a reflective and/or protective coating
- Ca 1960 green signage welcoming you to New Jersey along the former NJ Route 84 in Sussex County
- Porcelain signpost in Essex County
- An unusual NJ Route 33 shield near Trenton during the 1950s transitional period
- A menagerie of cool signage in Jersey City
- Old CURVE sign in Flemington
- A NJ HIGHWAY 4N sign in Asbury Park (now NJ Route 71)
- The once rural intersection of NJ 25 (US 130) and US 206 in Bordentown with a variety of signs and beacons
- Guideposts along NJ Route 10 in Livingston
- Guideposts signs in Salem County. Note the sharp corners and long arrows; I think this style was only used in Salem and Union counties.
- Highway-grade (illuminated?) KEEP TO RIGHT
- South Jersey guidepost from a 1958 issue of Sunday Newark News Magazine; note the rounded corners and smaller arrow when compared to the Salem county version.
- Lawrenceville, 1934 a NJ Rt 27 sign and a porcelain Caution Curve reflector, made, I believe, by American Gas Accumulator
- Hitchhikers along old NJ Route 5 in Hudson County
- Family travelers posing with the cast highway signs in Sussex County
- Guidepost with a 1940s -spec NJ Route 67 sign in Bergen County
- Interesting big curved arrow for the NJTP
- Old and new spec guidepost signs shown in a 1958 issue of Sunday Newark News Magazine
- A traveler admiring the pre-1953 renumbering cast signs in Bordentown
- Guidepost and bridge engraving along NJ Route 30 (later renumbered to 69, then 31) in Flemington
- Huge highway signs over US Route 46 in Wayne in 1966. I have passed under this bridge countless times.
- Cast sign heaven along US route 9 in Absecon, 1946.
- A small guidepost placed next to someone’s mailbox near Bordentown points motorists toward the Burlington Bristol Bridge in 1933.
- Guideposts at US 46 and US 1 & 9 (pre- NJ Turnpike) in Fort Lee. The large 9W and 1 signs on right are unusual.
A couple early shots from the Garden State Parkway…
I had assumed Passaic County’s “box” style guidepost signs only went back to about 1950, but I was wrong. The very cropped image above shows them posted at Belmont & West Broadway in Paterson in 1931. (see more of these in the Survivors section below)
Survivors in the Wild
This awesome cast iron sign with cateye reflectors is rusting away on Allwood Road in Clifton. The photo was sent to me by retired Clifton PD officer Bob Bracken, who is trying to have it publicly preserved by the city.
You simply can’t document cool old signage in New Jersey without help from Steve Alpert. His Alp’s Roads site is quite a trip! The photos I have copied here are just the tip of a huge iceberg of coolness he has personally photographed in NJ (and beyond) over the years.
Here we have attained porcelain nirvana in Essex County. The next three photos (below) show cast iron guideposts in Union County – one being similar to my own from elsewhere in the county. Note that the last digit in the cast ROUTE 22 banners are actually touched up to change the original number from “29” to “22”, which occurred with the 1953 NJ highway renumbering.
Union and Salem counties favored this style of cast iron signs with the sharp corners and long-stemmed arrows.
Paul Havemann sent me photos of a couple of county line markers that he took over the years. The cast iron sign on the left was on the border of Pequannock and Wayne until 2005. The newer (but still old) sign on the right stood on NJ route 23 near Smoke Rise into the late 1990s.
Ben Kranefeld has also photographed a number of these county line markers.
Another photo sent by Paul Havemann; these “box” style guidepost signs were once a Passaic County thing. By my time, these were all pretty faded, like you see here. They were somewhat confusing at first glance, but I think they indicated what town you were in (on top), followed by towns you were heading toward if you continued straight, and the principal town in the direction of the arrow at bottom. The ones in this photo are extra cool in that they were mounted on concrete posts similar to those once used for mailboxes in Jersey.
Collected Sign Gems
Here are some of the more remarkable NJ signs that have been collected. For a comprehensive gallery of all the vintage NJ highway shields I have photos of, check out the Vintage NJ Highway Shield Gallery.
I remember seeing these beautiful porcelain Essex County Highway System guidepost signs at various intersections well into the 1990s. Two photos of these signs in service can be seen in further up this page. This one was a 2018 eBay near-miss… it was sold in the town next-door to mine (ARGH!). I did eventually meet the seller, when he sold me my NJ Route 18 shield.
Fifty-fifty…either way, it’s cool. Ben Kranefeld has NJ Route 50 signs from two periods. On the left is an 18″ cast aluminum sign from the 1940s-50s, and on the right is a more familiar 24″ white-circle-in-black-square sign adhering to the 1961 MUTCD specification.
Although not Ben Kranefeld’s, this is a fantastic, very old cast STOP sign that he spotted in the front yard of a South Jerseyan during one of his road trips.
An incredible find in Virginia!
In July 2021, Virginia collector Scott Hubbard sent me photos of this gorgeous and rare (second one I’ve ever seen) original 1950s Garden State Parkway sign. The 18″ sign has green silk-screen over reflective yellow.
Brothers Pizza on NJ Route 33 in Hamilton has a beautiful 18″ NJ Route 33 sign (1940s spec) on the wall in their dining area. A visitor to this site named David kindly sent me this photo.
A lot of about a dozen cast iron guidepost signs from the Cumberland/Salem county area surfaced in 2020. This is my favorite sign of the bunch, with misspelled Mullica Hill.
This traffic light in South Orange goes back to probably the 1940s, but the gas lamp behind it dates back to the late 19th century. When I lived in South Orange in the early 90s, the town still maintained about 1,400 of them throughout the town.
Many New Jerseyans my age and older ought to remember these quaint little mail boxes on concrete posts, which went extinct probably over 30 years ago. I have seen a couple of the box-less posts still hanging around. This box was photographed at Monument Square in New Brunswick during the 1958 holiday season.
Banner photo: The cover of the Oct 19, 1958 issue of the Sunday Newark News Magazine, showing signage of the day.