My memories of The Chicago Yellow Street Signs in Chicago.


n clark & addison st joseph conglis
Here are two classic Chicago yellow street signs. North Clark and W Addison Streets. Photo credited by Joseph Conglis.

Welcome, everyone. Today I will be writing about the yellow street signs that were present in the city of Chicago for years. The yellow signs were installed around 1950 and lasted about 1975. To me, growing up in the city, it was one of the most pleasant and intriguing things that Chicago typically had. I have been to New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco and other cities, but they aren’t the same.

When my family first lived in the South Shore neighborhood in the 1960s, my first memory of the yellow signs was East 75th St. We lived on South Kingston Ave, and then in 1965, we moved to the next block at South Colfax Ave. I remembered the Colfax street sign as being yellow, with the black letters being very bold. My parents didn’t drive at the time, and we relied on public transportation. When we traveled to the city, I remembered looking out the window of The CTA propane bus and looking at all the street signs. It was fascinating to see all the names of the street that were unique.

The boulevards were not yellow but brown. I believe that some of the street signs that were labeled parkway (PKWY) were brown as well. I remembered the brown street signs were, Yates Blvd, Jeffery Blvd, Garfield Blvd, Loomis Blvd on the South Side. On The North Side, I only remembered Logan Blvd. We didn’t travel on the North Side that much. One street that I do remember was South Park Ave. It changed to Martin Luther King Dr on July 31, 1968. I’m unsure if South Park or Parkway was yellow or brown. I would love to see a photo of the South Park Ave or Parkway sign.

When my family and I moved to Roseland in 1969, we lived on South Michigan Ave near E 111th St. The yellow street signs were still prominent in the area. I didn’t see any brown signs in the neighborhood. I remembered one day we boarded The South Suburban Safeway Lines Bus on Michigan Ave and were on our way to Riverdale, IL, to visit my mother’s longtime friend. The last yellow sign I saw in Chicago was East 138th St and South Indiana Ave that bordered Chicago, Riverdale and Dolton Ave. We traveled everywhere on the CTA. Sometimes we on the North Side to visit my relatives, and I will still be looking at the yellow street signs. The names of the streets were still fascinating to me and later in my life, I purchased a book of the history of the streets of Chicago. I threw it away a long time ago because it was worn out. Hopefully, I will buy it again provided that edition if it’s still in print, or buy a new edition.

When my family and I moved to the Ashburn neighborhood in September 1974, we lived on Hayford St. The signs were still yellow until the next year. One morning, I woke up from my bed and looked out the window and observed the signs of Hayford St and Springfield Ave were replaced by green ones. I wasn’t completely shocked, but I was disappointed. My mother started learning to drive that year and then went on some errands or on our way to church, we noticed the yellow street signs were beginning to disappear. My favorite color is green, but I didn’t admire them as street signs. I nevertheless don’t to this day.

When the yellow street signs were being dismantled, they were on sale for the public to purchase. Today I see photos of those online by Google Search of on eBay for sale. On January 11, 2015, I created a Facebook page called Vintage Chicago Yellow Street Signs. I started finding photos online and eBay and posting them on my page. I don’t sell any of the signs, I managed my page for display only. Many people on Facebook have post photos of the signs they have in their possessions. They have in their basements, backyards, garages, or tuck away hidden their homes. My favorite searches are discovering the brown ones. They are extremely rare, and I have posted photos of those on my page.

I moved out of the city in December 1995 to the suburbs, and the streets signs in Chicago remain green. They are being replaced that are more up to date, but very slowly. There are few remaining yellow street signs throughout the city. If you have a Chicago yellow street sign, you can send me a message and post a photo of it. If you are on Facebook, you can also post them on my Facebook Page Vintage Chicago Yellow Street Signs. I am still waiting for more brown ones. Thank you. Pete Kastanes-Admin for Vanished Chicagoland and Vintage Chicago Yellow Street Signs Facebook Pages.

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