We at the Tenement Museum have come across a lot of cool artifacts while building our new Visitors & Education Center at 103 Orchard Street. Recently, we found this intimidating relic of old New York:
A probable orphan of Delancey Street directly next to our construction site, the "Gridlock Busters" warning sign carries a cautionary message most of us still have memorized. Still, you'd be hardpressed to find a sign like this on our busy streets today. Perhaps unfortunate, considering how often our intersection at Orchard and Delancey is clogged with cars - maybe we're in need of a mean mascot!
Likely from the late '70s or early '80s when the citywide "Don't Block the Box" program was first implemented, the warning sign was designed to stop drivers from blocking interesections during a red light, just as similar (less menacing) signs do today. Stylized and scary, we can only wonder what motorists feared more: the fine of two points on their licenses or the jagged teeth threatening to chomp down on them.
As the construction process continues, you never know what great, strange time capsules we'll discover next. Make sure to check back to find out!
-Posted by Joe Klarl