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Caution Optional » Blog Archive » The Newark Traffic Tower (in its final resting place?)

About a year ago on the MSN SignalFan group, someone posted an old picture of the ‘Four Corners Traffic Tower’ and a link to the VirtualNewark (or a related) website. My apologies to the original ‘discoverer’, but I misplaced your identity and I hate not being able to correctly attribute these things. So if it was you, please contact me and I’ll edit this posting.

As a city official in the early 1920s, charged with the safety and well-being of all your citizens, what do you do when you find that your city contains the world’s busiest traffic intersection? A daunting problem worthy of a magnificent solution. You build a two story tall bronze traffic control tower.

Just how busy was the Four Corners intersection back then? In 1915, Public Service counted over 280,000 pedestrian crossings in one thirteen-hour period. Eleven years later, on October 26, 1926, a State Motor Vehicle Department check at the Four Corners counted 2,644 trolleys, 4,098 buses, 2657 taxis, 3474 commercial vehicles, and 23,571 automobiles. - <1 - Wikipedia-Newark,NJ (slightly different figures than Bodian, don’t know why)>

An excellent recounting of its history can be read here: Virtual Newark Bodian 4 Corners story

There seems to be some controversy over which municipality was the first to install a traffic tower with both New York City3 and Detroit4 laying claim to being the first (1916 & 1917 respectively). Here’s a photo of the NYC tower on Fifth Ave. and 42nd St. Here’s a photo of the NYC tower on Fifth Ave. and 42nd St. NYC Tower 1922

Interesting footnote - Dutch Schultz was murdered just four blocks away (at the Palace Chop House) from this intersection. So it’s likely that both Schultz and his killers passed by this tower on the day of his death in 1935.

GoogleMap of Four Corners

Link to SignalWiki entry on this topic.

1920spostcard.jpgphoto source
Postcard from 1920. As you can see, when it was moved to its current location in the cemetery, the windows were replaced with copper louvers.

1927traffictower02.jpgphoto source
1927 photo of Broad & Market Streets.

I was very pleased to find that the tower had been preserved and could be visited at the Crest Haven cemetery in Clifton, NJ (just minutes away from Rutt’s Hut). The following pictures are from my visit.

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The detail on this thing is amazing.

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Here you can see the door in the bottom of the housing through which the traffic officer would enter and exit.

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