My name is Tony. I have loved traffic lights since I was a kid. Always liked looking at them and amazed at how they work. Growing up in Central New York near Utica, I had many opportunities to see traffic lights. Show me a picture of a traffic light, and I could tell you exactly what intersection it was. I guess that would be called a trafficgraphic memory or something.
My first traffic light was built by my uncle. A wood box with 3 holes, 3 lights with pull chains on the back, and coffee can lids in red, yellow and green for the lenses.
I built one with my dad. A 4 sided one complete with cardboard visors I put on it. It was crude, but hey, it was a traffic light.
Utica, NY was home to 100’s of traffic signal intersections. Many were made by Crouse Hinds which were manufactured in nearby Syracuse, NY. This is why they are my favorite signal to collect.
There still are many signalized intersections here, though in the past 10 years, with the declining population, many signals were taken down. Unfortunately, many of them, some installed pre-1960’s were stored away by the city, and eventually scrapped. (insert tears here)
Thankfully, many of Utica’s classic signals still are up and running. Many, up until 2017 had their original electromechanical controllers with them also. During 2017, Utica underwent a “modernization” of many intersections and replaced approximately 35 controllers, some installed in the late 1950’s with new electronic ones. What has happened to the old controllers is unknown, and trust me, I’ve tried to find out.
As I’ve grown older, life has afforded me the opportunity to purchase old traffic signals. I’ve had some since 2014 and my collection has been growing ever since. I currently have around 12 signals, many which are older than me. I tell people I “collect traffic lights” and usually get a confused look. Thankfully I’m a member of a couple of Facebook groups and forums with guys just like me than enjoy collecting them.
I’m always on the lookout for something new, well old to possibly purchase. Generally signals from the 1930’s to 1960’s interest me. Thats what I grew up seeing in my childhood and they always fascinated me.
I’ve also met a lot of guys just like me. Some people collect baseball cards, cars, football memorabilia, but these guys collect old traffic signals. They are a part of the early history of many cities like Utica and it is a shame when many of them end up on the scrap heap. They dont make them like those anymore and many of the companies have ceased to exist.
And i’m quite thankful my wife puts up with this. I’ve had signals in the garage, dining room and even in the kitchen. Nothing in the bedroom yet, since that is upstairs. She’s also helped me get some of them hung in the yard and in the basement.
I will chronicle my collection on this site, along with showing some of the Utica/Rome area’s classic traffic signals which are still around. Click on any of the menu bar items on the site, pardon any miss-spellings of mine, and enjoy reading!
Thanks for visiting.