An upside traffic light in upstate New York began as an act of rebellion but has now become a beloved local landmark.

Anyone who's taken their driving test knows that traffic lights have a red light on top, yellow in the middle and green on the bottom. That's true throughout the entire state of New York except for one very special intersection that has become somewhat of a magnet for tourists.

People who find themselves stopped at the Tipperary Hill traffic light may notice something a bit "off" but may not be aware that the history behind the green-on-the-top light goes all the way back to 1925.

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Google Maps

Why is the Tipperary Hill Traffic Light Upside Down?

As legend has it, a group of young Irish kids known as the "Stone Throwers" joined their neighbors in protest of a new traffic light that was erected in the 1920s. Residents of the Irish community on Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, New York saw the signal as an affront to their nationality. They were angry because the color red, which represented the British, was placed on the top of the light. Green, which is the color of Ireland, was relegated to the bottom.

The Stone Throwers got their name after hurling rocks in the air, taking aim at the red traffic light. They would hurl stones, which they nicknamed "Irish confetti", at the top of the signal, rendering it inoperable. Whenever the red light was replaced by the town, it wouldn't be long until the gang began throwing rocks again. After continuing to vandalize the light, community leaders gave up and agreed to install the traffic signal upside down.

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Google Maps

Memorial Erected to Honor Traffic Light Vandals

This act of civil disobedience has been memorialized at the Tipperary Hill Memorial. In 1997, a statue and a small park were constructed at the intersection to honor the Stone Throwers gang.

Local business owners and Irish community members raised funds to build the memorial which includes a statue depicting what appears to be an Irish family pointing and looking at the light. The statue goes out of its way not to glorify the acts of vandalism that caused the light to be turned upside down.

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Google Maps

A boy in the photo is shown with his mother's hand gently resting on his back. He does not have a rock in his hands, as one would expect. Rather, it appears that he's silently looking on as his parents discover that the red light as been destroyed.

You can find the Tipperary Hill Memorial Park the next time you visit the City of Syracuse on the corner of Tompkins Street and Milton Avenue.

Stop! Don't Miss These 11 Upstate New York Roadside Sites!

As a travel guide writer, I am especially tuned-in to the many (countless) interesting roadside sites in our area that are fascinating and historic. I compiled a list of 100 of the best in my book Upstate Uncovered (Syracuse University Press). I will start periodically posting some of the best. Don't miss these!

From the grave of one of America's most beloved artists, to the world's largest pancake griddle, to New York's own Mount Rushmore, and to the oldest stage and theatre in the country, these Upstate New York sites are all worthy of a few minutes of your time.

And why did Clara Barton set up her very first Red Cross chapter in little Dansville, N.Y> anyway??

History is around every corner in our beautiful Upstate New York!

Gallery Credit: Chuck D'Imperio

Even MORE Unique Roadside Attractions!

In case you're traveling throughout the great state of New York, here are some fun attractions to stop at either to take pictures, learn about history, or just appreciate art!

Gallery Credit: Maria Danise