For any of you who drive a car or, for that matter, have ever been a passenger, one factor always remains constant—a traffic light is red on the top, yellow in the middle, and green on the bottom. Take a drive to Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, New York, however, and you might think you are standing on your head. The traffic light there is reversed, with green on top and red on the bottom.
Why, you ask? The reason is probably more Irish urban legend than historical fact, but it helps to know that this section of town is very proud of its Irish heritage. In fact, they have a parade every February just to kick off the St. Patrick’s Day season!
When the traffic light was first installed way back in 1925, it was just an ordinary traffic light. The young Irishmen in the area, however, could not stand for the British red being on top of the Irish green. Repeated stone throwing and subsequent fixing of the broken light caused the city leaders to relent, and the order of the traffic light’s colors has been reversed ever since.
No one can actually find concrete evidence of the timing of the above incident, except for interviews of the widows of the stone-throwing youths. Nevertheless, the traffic light has gained infamous status in this proud Irish section of the city. In fact, when the Irish prime minister came to the United States in 1995, he made a point of visiting the traffic light on Tipperary Hill.
So the next time you are driving in Syracuse, make sure you make your way over to the intersection of Milton Ave. and Tompkins St. to visit this one-of-a-kind traffic light. But remember—green still means “go” and red still means “stop,” no matter what’s on top.