Monday, July 13, 2015

Wallet Card tours some of the last remaining medallions on the Avenue of the Americas

As I have mentioned in the past, I have become very interested in the last few years in old photos of Manhattan and Long Island. One common feature in old Manhattan photos that I thought were all gone were the medallions of the Avenue of the Americas.

After World War II Sixth Avenue was renamed "Avenue of the Americas" in order to drum up interest among the various  countries of the Western Hemisphere to do business in NYC. It remains the official name of the street although most New Yorkers still call it Sixth Avenue. In order to emphasize the new name and function of the street, medallions featuring the various countries of the Americas were affixed to street lights. They were taken down in the 1990s as they were exhibiting signs of age and many streetlights were being replaced anyway. These medallions are prominent in any picture (or video) of Sixth Avenue from the 1950s to the 1990s, and they always catch my eye when I see them in a photo.

I recently read that there actually are some surviving medallions on either end of the Avenue of the Americas. I don't know that I'll get to the ones on the southern blocks of the avenue downtown, but it was easy for me to check out the medallions on the three blocks immediately south of Central Park. Seeing the medallions that I thought were gone forever was kind of like stepping back in time for me, and was definitely one of my favorite wallet-card finds. I made sure to take a picture of every medallion, so bear with me as I indulge with several photos that are meaningful to me, if possibly no one else.


  1. I was there in December and completely missed these. Very cool.

    Did you get turquoise backpack's phone number?

  2. And I never knew why the name. Thanks a ton for that information, and for the images.

    This is a part of history that needs to be returned to the street. Private financing can't pony up the few hundred bucks per sign to get them replaced? Then again, they will want their name slapped on the thing.

    God forbid we don't get "Argentina, sponsored by Aquafina". American capitalism will fall apart without it.