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Old and Outdated, a Street Sign Survives... Until Now

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, August 25, 2008, at 06:14PM
One Old Way Eric Richardson [Flickr]

This "One Way" sign dates from sometime in between 1967 and 1978.

Every once in a while on a walk through Downtown, you run across something that makes you stop and say, "I think that's probably pretty old." Last week I was walking down from Bunker Hill when I passed this old "One Way" sign, featuring white lettering on a black background instead of the more modern inverse layout.

Looking for help in dating the sign, I forwarded a photo to LADOT's Assistant GM of Transportation Operations, John Fisher, who's written "Transportation Topics and Tales: Milestones in Transportation History in Southern California," available as a PDF from LADOT's website. He pegged the sign as dating between 1967 and 1978, using its small print as a guide.

If it says, "L. A. Traffic Dept" at the bottom, it was likely posted between 1967 and 1978.

Prior to 1967, the Traffic Department was overseen by the Traffic Commission which had to approve every sign installation. Beginning in 1967 the authority to install traffic control devices was wisely delegated to the General Manager and his staff. Thus, signs with "L. A. Traffic Comm" at the bottom were from the period, 1953 to 1967.

Shortly after the Department of Transportation was formed in February 1979, "City of Los Angeles" was shown at the bottom of signs.

Ironically, this dating also proved to be the signs undoing. Being over thirty years old and out of compliance with standards for street signage, DOT couldn't allow it to stay on the streets.

And so, in noticing a bit of history I ended up removing it.

Sorry about that.


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