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Red-Light District

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Some may regard them as obsolete nuisances; others see them as civic heirlooms. Either way, dummy traffic lights are a vanishing breed, and Croton-on-Hudson is one of the few places left in the US to have its very own.

The term “dummy light” is something of a misnomer, in that the upright, freestanding traffic-control mechanism functions the same way modern traffic lights do. “But some Crotonites speculate that they’re called ‘dummy’ lights because anything that stands still in the middle of traffic all day can’t be very smart,” offers a tongue-in-cheek Carl Oechsner, president of the Croton Friends of History and a self-described backyard historian.

One of three such traffic lights left in New York State and only a few more nationwide, the Croton dummy light—perched proudly on Old Post Road South and Grand Street—was installed circa 1926. After 75 years of faithful service to the community, says Oechsner, the seven-foot structure got a facelift when the son of former mayor Roland Bogardus reinforced the original base. With a dozen 15-watt LEDs supplying the luminosity, this red-brick remnant of a time since passed is but one more example of what’s cool about Croton. 

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