Games Learning Resources Visit the Museum
America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Traffic control tower on Fifth Avenue, New York City, late 1920s

Enlarge Image
Traffic control tower on Fifth Avenue, New York City, late 1920s
NMAH, Transportation Collections


This object appears in the following sections:

Americans Adopt the Auto:
Americans Adopt the Auto — Licensing Cars and Drivers

Controlling Traffic in New York
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection

In the 1920s, traffic towers enabled police officers to see above trucks, trolleys, and heavy traffic as they operated signals. This tower stood at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City.

Physical Description
Date Made:
late 1920s
New York

Although American cities were crowded and urban street congestion was a fact of life before the automobile, cars created new traffic problems, and their speed was of concern to pedestrians and cities alike. Signals and other ways of controlling the flow of traffic were invented and municipalities began to put them on their streets. Speed limits, one-way streets, traffic police, parking restrictions, and parking meters all became a fact of urban life.

National Museum of American History About This Site | Sponsors | Buy the Book | E-mail Signup | Credits