Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Voice of the City Part I: Signage in N.Y.C.

Have you ever seen the voice of the city? I have.

Times Square, New York, New York

New York City overflows with signage, words that compose the voice of the city.

Bronx, New York. Every New Yorker knows these buttons no longer work!

What is signage? "Signage" refers to "graphic designs, as symbols, emblems, or words, used especially for identification or as a means of giving directions or warning" (

A sign on Riverside Drive and 116th Street warns pedestrians of pesticide on the tree pits and curb lines along this median. Children and dogs beware!

Whether I am traveling within it by foot, car or train, the city speaks to me on a consistent basis, telling me where I am, what is around me, and what to do.

Carter Hotel, Times Square

On the Upper West Side, for example, a big white plaque attached to a movable metal gate asks me to please cross the street to use the other sidewalk.

Upper West Side

A small green plaque in Riverside Park informs me that I am looking at a Little Leaf Linden tree.

This bright red octagon in Chinatown clearly commands cars to STOP and forewarns them that cars on this street are only allowed to travel ONE WAY.

A banner in the Seaport last year revealed the location of the environmentally hazardous "New York City Waterfalls" project.

Beekman Street

Signs change over time, especially when civilians make their voices heard through the city streets by plastering store signs with stickers.

Essex Street

Vintage signs are especially fun! Look at this old Lower East Side Luncheonette sign bearing the Coca-Cola brand logo.

Eldridge Street, Lower East Side, New York, NY

Even as a native New Yorker, I often seek help from signs for directions. In the train station, for example, long black signs tell me which trains are available and if I am going downtown or uptown.

103rd Street & Central Park West Train Station

This M14A bus stop sign reminds me I am finally back home on the Lower East Side.

M14A Bus Stop, Grand Street & Jackson Street, NY, NY

Other signs are less helpful, like this fallen one in Battery Park City, that points me to the sky.

Battery Park City, New York, New York

Although I often utilize and read the signs that are posted along and under city streets, I realized only recently just how important these signs are to the identity of the city.

Corner of Morningside Park

I have had a similar experience with concrete--as often as my feet travel over those grey surfaces, sidewalks often go unnoticed.

Kim's Video Store, 116th & Broadway (Now Ricky's NYC). Pun intended.

But such signs are a hallmark of the city. They represent the city's voice and history and ought to be paid attention to, which is why I am sharing this post on the Voice of the City with you. I hope you enjoyed it!

161st Street-Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY. This photo is RIFE with signage.

All images in this post are Xiomara A. Maldonado's original photographs of signage throughout New York City. All of these images are copyrighted and watermarked.

If you are going to utilize any of these photographs, please credit the photographer as follows: "Photo courtesy of Xiomara A. Maldonado. Copyright Xiomara A. Maldonado 2008." and create a hyperlink to this blogpost. Thank you.


  1. awww don't cry miss. you'll be here again sometime no?

  2. i like the concept of this post. the city does talk to us through her street signs.