• Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.
      Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.

Colin Powell: Voice of Philadelphia's first talking pedestrian signal

PlanPhilly recently reported on the new automated-voice pedestrian crossing signals at the intersection of 30th and Market and 30th and Chestnut streets. The new signals tell pedestrians which street has the walk signal, but they are not the first pedestrian signals to include a voice feature. In fact, for almost ten years, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told pedestrians when it was safe to cross Broad Street at Montgomery Avenue, near Temple University’s campus. 

In April 1997, Powell became the voice of Philadelphia’s first talking pedestrian traffic signal when during a visit in the city he recorded, “The signal is green to cross Broad Street!”

“What can be tougher, negotiating Middle East peace or crossing North Broad Street at rush hour?” wrote a Temple University Office of News and Media Relations announcement in 2001. “Just ask Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is helping people do both.”

Powell’s recording played from the spring of 1997 to the spring of 2006, when The Temple News reported that the Philadelphia Streets Department installed “chirping” pedestrian signals along Broad Street at four intersections through Temple University’s main campus, at Cecil B. Moore Avenue, Montgomery Avenue, Polett Walk and Diamond Street. 


About the author

Christine Fisher, Transportation reporter

Christine covers transportation and writes about everything from pedestrian concerns to bicycle infrastructure, bridges, trail networks, public transit and more. Her favorite assignments send her bushwhacking through Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-cleared bike trails, catching a glimpse of SEPTA’s inner workings or pounding the pavement to find out what pedestrians really think. Christine also covers community news for Eyes on the Street, where her coverage ranges from food sovereignty to public art and urban greening. She first joined PlanPhilly in fall 2011 as an intern through a partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods website. During the internship her reporting on the Housing Authority’s surplus property auctions earned an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.


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