In 1924, Seattle’s first automated traffic signal was installed at 4th Ave S and Jackson Street. Now, 91 years later, the city has more than 975 signalized intersections, each one with its own signal control box situated nearby. Usually somewhat non-descript in appearance, these boxes quietly help traffic flow smoothly through the city – but recently, some Seattle communities have turned these helpful boxes into beautiful works of art through the Traffic Signal Control Box Artwork Program. A partnership between SDOT and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, this program lets these boxes become canvases for area artists, and mini-exhibitions that residents and visitors can enjoy for many years.
Additionally, designs can help highlight distinct aspects of Seattle neighborhoods, and can help discourage graffiti.
In addition to commissioned paintings, art can include:
- Maps of your neighborhood
- Vinyl wraps of different designs
Art can incorporate a variety of themes, but all designs need to be OK’d by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture before they can be installed. A word to the wise: be sure your design doesn’t include any symbols that may mimic traffic signs – artwork should not prompt any traffic confusion or reduce driver or cyclist visibility. Keep arrows, yellow diamonds and red hexagons out of any designs!
Interested in resurfacing some of your neighborhood’s traffic boxes with some new pieces of art? Visit Street Use’s pages on Traffic Signal Control Box Artwork here to learn more about installation guidelines, art proposals, and the street use permit application process.