If you listen to The Q Crew Morning Show with me and Melissa on Tuesdays, you know Officer Taylor Merris, the Special Events Coordinator for the Evansville Police Department stops by around 8:30 AM to talk about some of the community-related events the Department is either hosting or involved with, and whatever else happens to come up. This week, she shared a tidbit of info with us off-air about why some street name signs are green with white lettering and others are white with black lettering that kind of blew my mind.

The Difference Between Green and White Street Name Signs

We were talking about the upcoming mayoral election in November and Melissa commented that she can't vote in the mayor's race because she lives outside the city limits, but she thought her neighbors across the street could and that she thought the line separating the city from Vanderburgh County ran right down the middle of her street. That's when Taylor asked if her street signs were green or white. We were both a little confused and asked why that mattered. That's when Taylor dropped this bombshell —

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City streets are marked with green signs and county streets are marked with white ones.


Actual footage of what happened inside my head at that moment.

WHAT?!?! I had no idea. Honestly, I'd never really put any thought into it. I guess I assumed the sign color was simply the preference of whoever designed the neighborhood.

After Taylor made this revelation, I had to see it for myself. I opened up Google Maps, searched Evansville so it would show me the red dotted line that separates the city from the county and started dropping the little yellow guy into different intersections in both areas to get the street view. And, I'll be darned if every intersection I looked at within the city didn't have a green street sign and every one in the county had white.

Not Every City and Country are the Same

While not every city in Indiana uses green signs in the city and white signs in the county, they do use different colors to designate between the two. For example, Indianapolis uses green in the city, but smaller towns in Marion County, like Beech Grover, for example, use brown signs with white lettering. Others may use blue signs with yellow or white letters.

Street signs at an intersection in Beech Grove, Indiana (Google Maps)
Street signs at an intersection in Beech Grove, Indiana (Google Maps)

The Federal Highway Administration regulates all roadway signs through the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)and while some traffic signs must be a certain color depending on their purpose, there doesn't seem to be any requirement as to what color a street sign should be. There is however a shape requirement.

Any street/road/highway sign that serves as some type of guide for drivers must be rectangular. Since street name signs are designed to tell you what street you're on to guide you to where you're going, they fall under this category. Chances are if you see a street name sign that isn't a rectangle, it will likely be in an older neighborhood or historic district. I would also bet those signs were left there as decoration and there is an updated street sign somewhere close by.

Maybe the colors and shapes of street signs are common knowledge that somehow passed me by, or I have a simple mind that is easily amused by little "fun facts." Chances are, it's a little of both, but I thought this was fascinating. Sometimes, it's the little things, you know?

If you were oblivious to this fact, I hope you found it as fascinating as I did. Or at least, mildly interesting. Either way, feel free to share your newfound knowledge with your friends and family.

[Sources: Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices / Quora]


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