Friday, August 17, 2012

The little green man/woman that leads your way

In any city around the world with streets and roads, they will be there. They work non-stop day and night telling pedestrians when to walk and when to stop. I'm talking about the little persons that appears on the traffic lights for pedestrians.

For cars the traffic lights are just plain circles filled with red, yellow or green. But for pedestrians they are often little silhouettes of actual human beings. This by itself is pretty interesting. But more interestingly, this iconic shaping of a red person standing straight for stop and a green person in a walking pose for walk has been universal. No one really notices or asks why they are illustrated that way.

However, apart from those "generic" icons, here in Germany there is an entirely different set of pedestrian lights:

These little fellows are called Ampelmann (English: traffic light man) and are commonly found in east Germany. They are designed in Berlin and were quite sensational when they were first introduced. People treated it as a mascot and merchandises were made. Recently they even have a souvenir shop in Berlin dedicated to it.

But the most interesting this, at a certain point of time, someone designed a set of pedestrian lights which uses little girls as the icons, and called them, naturally, Ampelfrau (English: traffic light woman). Only a few of them are being used in Dresden, and one being used in Magdeburg (according to Wikipedia). So today I set off to locate this unique traffic light and I found it at the junction of Ernst-Reuter-Allee and Breiter Weg, and they look like this:

Essentially they are Ameplmann with dress and pony tails. I think they are pretty cute.

I don't know why no one has mentioned that but I think it's a very interesting point of interest for anyone who visits Germany, and in particular Magdeburg. A little gem I'd say.

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