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Wayfinding Program Shows the Trouble of Capital Thinking

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2007, at 02:50PM
Growing Older Eric Richardson [Flickr]

In what seems a bit to be ancient history on Downtown's timeline, the first of the wayfinding signage went up just a bit over two years ago. The Downtown LA Walks program represented an ambitious attempt to help pedestrians navigate Downtown. It had some issues -- ok, a lot of issues -- but on the whole it was a noble effort. A lot of people complained, and fixes were made.

Two years later and the topic has largely died down. If only that meant the issues were gone...

The photo at right shows a wayfinding sign at 4th and Hill proudly proclaiming itself part of the "Historic Downtow." Lest you think it was defaced or just wore off, here's a photo by Jim Winstead showing the same "Downtow" sign in 2005.

More fundamentally, though, the wayfinding maps that were part of the program are falling farther and farther out of date. The photo at left shows a part of one map installed at 8th & Figueroa. The "Hyatt Regency" features prominently, and the DASH A still runs south of 7th. The Hyatt, of course, has been a Sheraton since May of 2005. The DASH A now takes a right at 7th and has done so for quite a while.

The core problem is one of planning. 100% of the budget for this project was spent up-front. It was put into design and manufacture, with no thought given to ongoing maintenance. How much longer until the inaccuracies just become too much and the signs simply need to come down? Downtown changes constantly, and these maps sitting on the sidewalk do not.

Right photo by Ed Fuentes.

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