Sunday, November 27, 2011

History of Highway Signs (Part I)

As you may heave heard, U.S. Highway System recently celebrated its 85th birthday.  It was November 11, 1926 that the United States Numbered Highways system was officially designated.
Previous to that most roads were a series of designated trails, such as the Lincoln Highway or the Dixie Highway. What's now US 71 was, in part, part of the Jefferson Highway

Then, in 1926, it officially became U.S. 71
In 1948, the design was modified slightly to use more rounded letters and numbers

Then in 1948, another style was added to keep up with the demands of high speed traffic
There was also a Button Copy shield that was used on expressway signage

Then in 1961, the design was changed once more to the now familiar black and white

But there would be one more change: in 1971 the shield shape was changed slightly
And if that's not confusing enough, Texas had their own design
So did Missouri (most often used on expressways)

Now if you really want confusing, check out Florida's "Kodachrome" signs :

Yes, I know: 71 doesn't go to Florida. But can you imagine trying to keep up with all these colors?

Oh, and one more: 
City Route US Highway sign. Missouri used these as did several other states, but Arkansas did not.

No, that's not all. There are several other variants, but most are a combination of the above. Maybe I'll tell you about them, someday. ;)

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