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Pop Quiz: Where Is This Old Traffic Sign?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, July 09, 2010, at 06:52AM
Left Turn Only Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Pop quiz time, Downtowners. Close your books, take out a blank sheet of paper and answer this one for me:

This "Left Turn Only" sign has been hanging on a Downtown street for decades. Can you tell me exactly where, and why it's no longer valid?

Check back in later today for more information on the sign and its history.

Like this concept? It's something we'd like to do regularly, pointing out bits of visible Downtown trivia that have a story behind them. Send any tips on future questions to

The answer:

Our "Left Turn Only" sign hangs near the corner of 6th and Spring, outside 600 S. Spring. The building's recently-completed residential conversion took out the garage opening from which cars would have seen it, so today the sign points only to a retail space.

Even without that, though, the sign is a bit of an oddity. Spring street was converted to one-way operation on April 5, 1970, so ostensibly the sign would have gone up outside the 1960 building at that point.

Below the sign's text, though, is the name "L.A. Traffic Comm" Prior to 1967, every sign installation had to be approved by the commission before installation by the city's Traffic Department. In that year, though, the commission granted the department its own power to install signage, and most signs installed after 1967 say "L.A. Traffic Dept" instead.

So why would a sign installed in 1970 be at least three years old? It's possible that the department was forced to raid the warehouse when it did the Spring street conversion. An L.A. Times story from the day after the changeover noted a scene in which department engineers and the police were still trying to get drivers up to speed with the new program.

"Send over some more no-left-turn and no-right-turn signs," the paper reported Sgt. Ed Metrevics as having radioed from his three-wheeler. "Too many people turning the wrong way, still."

Now what about the contraflow bus lane that ran north on Spring street from 1974 to 2005? The same sign would still have applied, though a perhaps unwritten rule did allow drivers exiting the garage here to turn right onto Spring and then right onto 6th.


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