Here’s where Brooklyn’s unique ‘Fuhgeddaboudit,’ ‘Oy Vey’ signs come from
Drivers in most cities are accustomed to seeing ordinary highway signs that read “Welcome to” and “Leaving [insert metropolis]” — but Brooklyn isn’t like most cities.
Brooklyn, after all, is the center of all things hip, trendy and unique. A simple “Welcome to Brooklyn” or “Leaving Brooklyn” sign surely wouldn’t suffice.
Which is why former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz decided to implement a fleet of distinctive signs across Kings County during his tenure. The Brooklyn Eagle caught up with Markowitz to find out his inspiration behind the signage.
“I decided that the Brooklyn we all knew, as far as I’m concerned, was a separate city,” Markowitz told the Eagle. “I wanted to let everyone know coming into Brooklyn or leaving that they were in a special place or leaving a special place.
“It was really about branding Brooklyn as a unique place to live, grow a family, have a business, work and be from.”
The complete line of Markowitz’ charismatic “Welcome to Brooklyn” signs can be found across all of Brooklyn’s East River bridges, as well as on the borough’s many expressways and parkways.
The eight different “Welcome to Brooklyn” signs say:
1. “Welcome to Brooklyn: Name It … We Got It!”
2. “Welcome to Brooklyn: How Sweet It Is! “
3. “Welcome to Brooklyn: Where New York City Begins!”
4. “Welcome to Brooklyn: Like No Other Place In The World!”
5. “Welcome to Brooklyn: Not Just A Borough, An Experience”
6. “Welcome to Brooklyn: Believe The Hype!”
7. “Welcome to Brooklyn: The Heart of America!”
8. “Welcome to Brooklyn: Home To Everyone From Everywhere!”
The two “Leaving Brooklyn” signs, which are arguably the most popular, read “Leaving Brooklyn: Fuhgeddaboudit” and “Leaving Brooklyn: Oy Vey!”
“The signs in the other boroughs say ‘Welcome to Manhattan’ or ‘Welcome to the Bronx,’ and they’re not really personalized,” said Markowitz. “I really wanted the signs to make a statement.
“The other boroughs all have unique characteristics, but Brooklyn is Brooklyn! I guess that’s the best way to say it.”
Current Borough President Eric Adams expressed his thoughts on the signs.
“Only Brooklyn can pull off being welcoming and in-your-face with the charm and swagger that defines our global brand,” Adams told the Eagle. “Our welcome signs have become an iconic part of what it means to experience our borough, and all Brooklynites should have a voice in shaping that one-of-a-kind welcome that we make on our highways and byways.
“I look forward to hearing from residents old and new about their ideas for messages that may adorn these signs in the future.”
Markowitz said that the “Fuggedaboutit” and “How Sweet It Is” signs originated from the 1950s television show “The Honeymooners,” which was set in Brooklyn and whose characters commonly used those phrases.
“You might say that our accents were pretty unmistakable,” said Markowitz. “Today it’s different, but back then it wasn’t. Words like ‘fuggedaboutit’ became quite commonplace.”
Markowitz also shared with the Eagle the story of how the “Oy Vey” sign came to be.
“There was somebody who was upset about the ‘fuggedaboutit’ sign,” said Markowitz. “This gentleman took it as an ethnic slur against Italian Americans … He asked me how I would like it if I had a sign up because I’m a Jew that said ‘Oy Vey.’
“I said, ‘What a great idea.’ I hung up the phone and we got the sign put up on the Williamsburg Bridge, which is an appropriate place for it.”
In addition to resonating with Brooklynites, Markowitz said the signs have become a tourist attraction, a staple of Brooklyn and have added that extra bit of character that truly reflects the borough. The “Fuggedaboutit” and “Oy Vey” signs have appeared in several movies, as well.
“I’m thrilled that the signs have made a statement,” said Markowitz. “Brooklyn is living up to the hype — that’s for sure!”
Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.