Skip to main content

Tipperary Hill Traffic Signal

In a quiet neighborhood of Syracuse, New York, Tipperary Hill is home of the famous upside down traffic light. The traffic light is a tribute to the strong Irish heritage in the Syracuse area, but there is a deeper story behind why the green light is on top and the red light is on the bottom of the traffic signal. The first traffic light at the corner of Milton Avenue and Tompkins Street was supposedly put up in 1925 with a green light on top as a salute to the Irish, as requested by a city alderman (1). Eventually, the City of Syracuse decided to put the red light on top of the traffic signal, which gave some locals fits. The local children saw this as a blow to their Irish heritage, as red on top equaled supporting the British in their minds. They took matters into their own hands, throwing stones at the red light whenever the city put up a red light on top. After a while, the city relented and allowed the green light to return to the traffic light.


Even with all the stories of youth throwing stones at the red light, there is no official documents indicating exactly when the light went up. The first mention of the traffic light in was in the 1940s, when a New York City mayor visited Syracuse and greeted two sets of triplets under the upside down traffic light (2). Today, Syracuse celebrates this part of their history, with a small monument at the northeast corner of the intersection dedicated to stone throwers who honored their Irish heritage by resisting a traffic signal with a red light on top.

I've also visited the upside down traffic light at Tipperary Hill a number of times.


Stone Throwers' Memorial, which is at the intersection of the upside down traffic light.







Coleman's Irish Pub is a long operating restaurant in the Tipperary Hill neighborhood of Syracuse, just down the street from the intersection.

When I visited, there were warning signs that tell you that the green light is on top.
Sources:
(1) Syracuse Post-Standard - In Syracuse, an Irish lesson for the prime minister: Rocks against red lift green on Tipp Hill - http://www.syracuse.com/kirst/index.ssf/2005/03/rocks_against_red_lift_green_o.html
(2) Gizmodo - The Story Behind Syracuse's Upside-Down Traffic Light - 
http://gizmodo.com/the-story-behind-syracuses-upside-down-traffic-light-1545301615

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The history of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California

The historic corridor of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 through the borderlands of southern California share a largely mutual history.  Both highways originated in the city of San Diego and departed the state at the Colorado River into Yuma, Arizona.  Both highways share numerous famous geographical components such as the Mountain Springs Grade and Algodones Sand Dunes.  This article serves as a comprehensive history of the combined US Route 80/Interstate 8 corridor in California from the tolled stage route era of the nineteenth century to the development of the modern freeway.   The blog cover photo features US Route 80 along the Mountains Springs Grade through In-Ko-Pah Gorge during late 1920s.  This photo is part of the Caltrans McCurry Collection. Part 1; the history of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California share a largely mutual history.  The backstory of both highways is tied heavily to the corridors of the Old Spanish Trail, Legisl

The Central Freeway of San Francisco (US Route 101)

The Central Freeway is a 1.2-mile elevated limited access corridor in the city of San Francisco.  As presently configured the Central Freeway connects from the end of the Bayshore Freeway to Market Street.  The Central Freeway carries the mainline of northbound US Route 101 from the Bayshore Freeway to Mission Street. The Central Freeway has origins with the establishment of Legislative Route Number 223 and is heavily tied to the history of the once proposed Panhandle Freeway.  The Central Freeway between the Bayshore Freeway and Mission Street was completed during 1955.  The corridor was extended to a one-way couplet located at Turk Street and Golden Gate Avenue in 1959 which served to connect US Route 101 to Van Ness Avenue.  The Central Freeway was damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and has since been truncated to Market Street.   The Central Freeway as pictured on the blog cover was featured in the May/June 1959 California Highways & Public Works.  The scan below is fro

The Midway Palm and Pine of US Route 99

Along modern day California State Route 99 south of Avenue 11 just outside the City limits of Madera one can find the Midway Palm and Pine in the center median of the freeway.  The Midway Palm and Pine denotes the halfway point between the Mexican Border and Oregon State Line on what was US Route 99.  The Midway Palm is intended to represent Southern California whereas the Midway Pine is intended to represent Northern California.  Pictured above the Midway Palm and Pine can be seen from the northbound lanes of the California State Route 99 Freeway.   This blog is part of the larger Gribblenation US Route 99 Page.  For more information pertaining to the other various segments of US Route 99 and it's three-digit child routes check out the link the below. Gribblenation US Route 99 Page The history of the Midway Palm and Pine The true timeframe for when the Midway Palm and Pine (originally a Deadora Cedar Tree) were planted is unknown.  In fact, the origin of the Midway Palm and Pine w