A Historical Look at Street Signs

4th of November 2009 0

A Historical Look at Street Signs

We often see them on our way to work, to the mall or park but more often than not, we pay very little attention to them. Well, they seem mostly irrelevant unless we need to know where we are headed. In this aspect, street signs are quite a useful lot and it seems like they have been in existence since time immemorial. Amid the plethora of street signs, have you ever stopped and wondered where it all began?

According to historians, the very first street signs can hardly be described as signs at all. Built by the Romans, the predecessors of the modern street signs were massively tall columns designed to let travelers know how far they were from Rome and what direction they should travel. These “massively tall columns” were called milestones.

In the Middle Ages, the street signs became a bit more advanced. Street signs were now used to point travelers to certain cities and towns in Europe. Most street signs also noted the distance to certain towns.

The importance of street signs became more pronounced upon the arrival of the first automobiles. As more drivers took to the streets, they needed the help of street signs to let them know where they were going, how to get there and how much farther they are from their destination. It wasn’t until 1895 when the Italian Touring Club organized a group to petition for better street signs as an aid to both drivers and travelers.

As the new century started, the International Road Congress met in Rome to discuss signage on European roads. In this meeting, the group agreed on four pictorial signs that were to note road conditions. The first four road signs were the “bump”, “curve”, “intersection” and “railroad crossing” signs and they constituted the first European road sign system. The European system is the basis for America’s sign system and by the 1960s, America was using international symbols to depict road conditions, impose speed limits and provide helpful information to travels.

The advent of digital technology has given rise to many electronic street signs. As opposed to the traditional street signs, these tech-savvy signs are able to flash pictures and can be instantly updated by computer to reflect changing road conditions.

And while street signs were initially invented to give directions to travelers and drivers, they are increasingly being utilized as effective marketing tools. Many companies allot a substantial amount of their yearly budget for street signs as a way to attract more customers into their fold. As demand for outdoor signage increased, many entrepreneurs have come up with innovative solutions to delivering quality signage.

One such company is SignWire.com. SignWire.com provides innovative commercial business sign solutions that customers also utilize for residential applications. For nearly three decades, SignWire.com has been doing graphics design and layouts as well as degrees of sign fabrication and installation procedures. Their breadth of experience means that their representatives understand the various steps and proper procedure involved in the completion of their customer’s sign projects.


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