A street sign commemorating the birthplace of Scrabble in Queens disappeared in 2008, but was replaced in 2009 after local voters elected Daniel Dromm to the New York City Council. Scrabble was originally called Criss-Crosswords and was created by Alfred Mosher Butts in the 1930s. It was later modified and popularized by James Brunot and Jack Straus.
No one seemed to know who installed the only street sign for 35th Avenue in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens in 1995. But the sign commemorating the birthplace of Scrabble, near where former architect Alfred Mosher Butts created game in the 1930s, was a source of community pride for years. Just like on the Scrabble tiles, there were point values under each of the letters in the mark. Then, in 2008, he mysteriously disappeared. When local voters elected Daniel Dromm to the New York City Council in 2009, one of his campaign promises was to install a replacement sign. After clearing a few bureaucratic hurdles, the Scrabble sign was finally approved and now stands proudly at the corner of 35th Avenue and 81st Street in Jackson Heights, subtly informing passers-by that it would be worth as little as 14 points in the game.
Why Scrabble has finally taken off:
Butts originally called the game Criss-Crosswords. He produced some sets himself, but failed to sell the idea to major game manufacturers in the late 1930s.
James Brunot of Newtown, Connecticut bought the rights to the game in 1948 and agreed to pay Butts a royalty on each sale. He changed the name to Scrabble, slightly modified the board and simplified the rules.
In 1952, Macy’s president Jack Straus played on vacation and was hooked. He placed a large order, but Brunot could not keep up with the sudden demand. Brunot then sold the game to established game maker Selchow and Righter.