This U.S. Town Has Upside Down Traffic Lights Because The Irish Hate The English

Those bloody English. - Screenshot: Fly’n Brian via YouTube
Those bloody English. - Screenshot: Fly’n Brian via YouTube

We all know what traffic lights look like, right? The red light is on the top, meaning stop, yellow is in the middle and green is at the bottom to tell you when it’s time to go. However, in a neighborhood in one New York town, that’s been flipped on its head by the Irish residents’ hatred of the English.

Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, New York, was a big spot for Irish immigrants to settle in the 19th and 20th century. Coincidentally, that was also the time that traffic lights were becoming popular across the U.S. and the rest of the world.

The first traffic lights came to Tipperary Hill in 1925, with its red light at the top, yellow in the middle and green at the bottom, as had been popularized by the three-color lights launched in New York in 1918. However, having the red light on top didn’t please the Irish residents of the neighborhood, as Irish Central explains:


The light was erected on the corner of Tompkins Street and Milton Avenue. Some Irish youths, who came to be known as the Stone Throwers, objected to the fact that the “British” red appeared above the “Irish” green on the light and threw stones, which they called “Irish confetti,” to break the red bulb.

The kids aged 11 to 17, included John “Jacko” Behan, Richard “Richie” Britt, James M. “Duke” Coffey, Kenneth “Kenny” Davis, George Dorsey, Gerald “Mikis” Murphy, Francis “Stubbs” Shortt, and Eugene Thompson.

A former Onondaga County Sheriff, Patrick “Packy” Corbett, was also named as one of the Stone Throwers, but he would never acknowledge his involvement.

To try and bring an end to the onslaught of Irish confetti, the traffic light was hung upside down and this brought an end to the attacks… for a short time. However, New York lawmakers took offense to the flipped signals, and warned that it could confuse color blind drivers in the state, so it was changed to have its red light on top once again.

Unsurprisingly, that didn’t last long and the red light was smashed for being on top yet again. Residents warned that as long as the red light was on top, they would vandalize the signal. So, on St Patrick’s Day 1928, the city finally relented and let the town keep its upside down traffic signals.

Still, to this day, Tipperary Hill is home to the only green over red traffic signal in the U.S.

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