Old California porcelain enamel traffic signs

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1900 The Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) is established in Los Angeles.
1906 ACSC erects it first guide signs between Ocean park and Los Angeles.
1907 The California State Automobile Association (CSAA) is established in San Francisco.
1908 The CSAA erects its first guide sign at 19th Avenue and Parkside Boulevard in San Francisco.

CSAA erects yellow and blue diamond guide signs in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Merced and Fresno counties.

The early signs were paid for by club members as a service to the public. The clubs tried painted wood signs but decided on porcelain enamel on 18 gauge steel which could be repaired in the field.
1910 ACSC has erected 2,400 signs.
1911 ACSC erects railroad crossing warning signs.
1914 ACSC erects signs on the National Old Trails Road from Los Angeles to Kansas City. At this time most major routes had names instead of numbers.

CSAA begins signing in Northern and Central California.
1915 ACSC erects signs on the Midland Trail from Los Angeles to Ely, Nevada.
1916 ACSC erects signs on the Old Spanish Trail from San Diego to Kent, Texas.
1917 CSAA erects yellow and blue diamond guide signs on the Lincoln Highway from San Francisco to Salt Lake City, Utah.
1918 CSAA signs have a code number on the back of each sign that identifies the sign location on a county map.

CSAA has erected 8,000 signs.
1921 ACSC and CSAA assume responsibility for the maintenance of El Camino Real bells and guide signs.

CSAA erects yellow and blue diamond guide signs on the Victory Highway from San Francisco to Kansas City.

CSAA erects yellow and blue diamond guide signs on the Coast and Valley routes. CSAA is abbreviated and logo is included.
1925 ACSC erects its first STOP BOULEVARD sign in Coronado.

CSAA erects new signs: ONE WAY STREET, STOP BOULEVARD, NO LEFT TURN HERE, ICE DRIVE SLOWLY.
1927 CSAA erects illuminated STOP ARTERIAL signs in San Francisco.

Manual on Uniform Signing and Traffic Control published.
1928 ACSC and CSAA erect black and white US route shields on US routes in California.

CSAA adopts the Federal Road Sign Plan and begins to replace yellow and blue diamond guide signs with black and white rectangular signs. Yellow diamond signs are retained for warning signs only.

CSAA has erected 84,000 signs in Northern and Central California.
1929 CSAA erects black and white rectangular guide signs showing elevation at 1,000 foot intervals on US 40 and US 50.
1932 ACSC and CSAA erect large reflectorized guide signs. Warning signs are also reflectorized with glass reflectors buttons called “cats eyes”.

CSAA replaces black and white rectangular guide signs with improved ones containing a broad arrow and larger lettering.
1933 State Sign Committee organized.

ACSC and CSAA contract with the State to erect signs on State highways. State pays actual cost of sign material only.

DOH assumes responsibility for the maintenance of El Camino Real bells and guide signs.
1934 ACSC and CSAA erect black and white State route shields on State highways. The new sign is in the shape of a miner's spade and displays a grizzly bear from the State flag. Often called a "bear shield".
1935 Governor James Rolph vetos legislation designed to prohibit ACSC and CSAA from placing their signs on State highways. ACSC and CSAA continue signing and agree to include only club logo on new signs.
1937 CSAA has erected 135,000 signs in Northern and Central California.
1942 Many changes occur due to the out beak of World War II. Requirement for metal signs is suspended, signs are made from Masonite, plastic reflectors replace glass reflectors on new signs, and the clubs erect signs to military bases and in dim out zones.
1947 ACSC and CSAA cease signing activities on State Highways but the clubs continue to erect signs for cities and counties.

The State Division of Highways (DOH) begins signing on State highways. Signs are still porcelain enamel on steel, the DOH logo is now included on the signs.
1956 ACSC ceases erecting signs after 50 years.
1958 CSAA erects signs for 24 counties and 114 cities.
1964 DOH replaces black and white bear shield with new green and white reflectorized aluminum sign. Most signs are now made of reflectorized sheeting on aluminum.
1969 CSAA ceases erecting signs after 61 years.








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