Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Arizona's State Route Swastika Signs

Believe it or not, all Arizona State Route highway signs once included a swastika.  No, Arizona was not a fascist state!  Swastikas were once considered "good luck" symbols.  When World War II broke out, all swastikas were removed and undoubtedly will never return.

As US 89 made its way through Arizona, it encountered many State Routes.  Undoubtedly, some of the State Route swastika signs showed up on US 89 at junctions, crossings and when US 89 and a State Route shared the same roadway.

Imagine the shock, indignation and downright anger such a symbol would generate today if it remained a part of Arizona road signage!

State Route 84 was known in Tucson as The Casa Grande Highway.  It "T'd" into US 80-89 at the north end of the famous (and ultimately infamous) Miracle Mile on what's now Oracle Road.  Undoubtedly, there would have been signs on US 89 north and south of that "T" intersection indicating SR 84 ahead.  Here is a comprehensive compilation of all Arizona highway signs, including every single swastika sign ever used . Scroll to the bottom to see the list of original 1927 signs that used the offensive symbol.


Above is a screen clip from an official Arizona Highway Department 1937 map showing where SR84's west end terminated at the north end of Miracle Mile on US80-89.  The small circles denote the traffic roundabouts at either end of the Miracle Mile.
Source: http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/singleitem/collection/har/id/64/rec/103
There is quite a lot of discussion and documentation online regarding both the use of the swastika on Arizona's road signs as well as in other local and regional cultural contexts.  The above graphics were obtained from such a discussion written in 2010 prior to the Arizona 2012 Centennial.

Source: http://arizona100.blogspot.com/2010/09/arizona-once-revered-swastika-eighty.html

So far, we have not yet found any original Arizona swastika road signs.  Who knows?  They might even be banned from sale on eBay. One entrepreneur offers to make reproductions of the signs but charges well over $300 for each sign!

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