February 10, 2005

The new signs put you immediately in mind of those nightmarish car trips in Los Angeles, where you begin somewhere and, forty-five minutes later, you are somewhere else, and all the while you have been looking for a big sign that reads “Pico.” Worse than merely unfamiliar, though, the signs are infuriating—first, because they are there for the convenience of cars, and thus violate the first Law of Civilization, which states that nothing must ever be done for the convenience of cars (the mark of a city worth living in is that there are never enough places to park); and, second, because they eclipse, as décor, the jaunty, jazz-era syncopation of the classic New York street-corner sign pair, each sign gesturing toward its own street, but with the two set at slightly different levels, so that they have a happy, semaphoric panache. (The two smaller signs are still there, but they are now drowned out by the highway signage, two jazz piccolos trying to be heard above an electrified kazoo.)

The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, by way of the Bridge and Tunnel Club Blog.


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