Friday 21 August 2015

Postcard of the Day No. 77 – Traffic Tower, New York City

Seven of these curious beasts were installed on New York’s Fifth Avenue in the 1920s. They didn’t last long as they quickly became a cause of congestion rather than a solution. By 1929 they were gone. Cast in bronze and architect designed they were intended to impress but they just got in the way. An early instance of the surveillance society that we all inhabit today, they attempted to bring a militarised solution to the problem of traffic flow. The Beaux-Arts decorations and mouldings were to reflect the prestige of the commissioning authority – the Fifth Avenue Association. Somehow they contrive to be simultaneously sinister and ridiculous. It would have been interesting if the claw feet on which they stand were to wrench themselves out of the tarmac in an emergency and set off in hot pursuit of a felon. 

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