Street sign

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Not to be confused with Traffic sign.
Bilingual street sign in Toronto, Canada (Chinese and English)
East Berlin street sign for the former Marx-Engels-Platz, with the Berlin Television Tower in the background (1984)
Bilingual wall-mounted street signs in Nice, France
Mast-mounted street sign in California

A street sign is a type of traffic sign used to identify named roads, generally those that do not qualify as expressways or highways. Street signs are most often found posted at intersections, and are usually in perpendicularly oriented pairs identifying each of the crossing streets. Modern street signs are mounted on either utility poles or smaller purpose-made sign poles posted on a streetcorner, or hung over intersections from overhead supports like wires or pylons. Up until around 1900 in America, however, street signs were often mounted on the corners of buildings, or even chiseled into the masonry, and many of them signs still exist in older neighborhoods. They are commonly used in France and England.

A street sign may optionally indicate the range of house numbers found nearby. Some street signs also indicate an alternative name for the street, such as "Fashion Avenue" for Seventh Avenue in New York City, or "Avenue of the Arts" for Huntington Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. Multilingual signs are common and may be required by law in some areas, such as French-speaking regions of Canada.

Most streets have a traffic sign at each intersection to indicate the name of the road. The design and style of the sign is usually common to the district in which it appears. The sign has the street name and sometimes other information, such as the block number or the name of the London borough in which the street is located. Such signs are often the target of simple vandalism, and signs on unusually or famously named streets are especially liable to street sign theft.

Usually, the color scheme used on the sign just reflects the local standard (for example, white letters on a green background are common throughout the US). However, in some cases, the color of a sign can provide information, as well. One example can be found in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Within its city limits, all major arterial roads use a blue sign, north-south roads use a green sign, and east-west roads use a brown sign. Other places sometimes use blue or white signs to indicate private roads.

In recent years, many US and Canadian cities have adopted the mast arm for traffic signal equipment; major intersections are marked with large signs mounted on the mast arms. This was started in the 1960s by the California Department of Transportation. Los Angeles and San Francisco started in the 1970s and recently New York City has introduced the bigger signs at its intersections. In 2013, New York City began to change street signs that have been previously used Highway Gothic font for a new one, Clearview, that include both upper and lower case letters, which is considered more readable.[1]


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  1. ^ Bacho, Katia (June 24, 2013). "On the Street Clarity". The New Yorker (subscription needed). p. 30.