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Bright Idea!

January 11, 2004

Pete Donohue, New York Daily News

The signs they are a changin'.

The usual drab, rectangular green street signs in midtown are being replaced by eye-catching blue signs that pay homage to the past while using technology of the present.

The upgrade, the work of the 34th St. Partnership, is taking place in a region bordered roughly by 10th and Park Aves., and 31st and 36th Sts.

You can hardly miss them: They're illuminated by brighter and long-lasting bulbs called light emitting diodes.

And in a throwback to earlier city signs, these new signs offer the range of numbered street addresses on an individual block - so pedestrians and drivers don't have to guess where say, 350 W. 33rd St. is (between Eighth and Ninth Aves.).

"We're going back to some of the good ideas the city had earlier on," said Dan Biederman, executive director of the 34th St. Partnership.

Improving the streetscape enhances a neighborhood's image, and business potential, Biederman said, especially in high-traffic areas that attract tourists and business travelers.

"They all get their impressions of New York partly through us," Biederman said.

All 179 signs in the program are up, and most are equipped with the lighting. The remaining 80 or so should be lit by Jan. 25.

But they don't come cheap. The partnership had trouble with earlier designs.