Thursday, June 14, 2012

STREET SIGN APOCALYPSE

First of all, as you might have heard, one of our baseball guys did an Important Baseball Thing last night. I tried and tried to think of some unique angle on this but I got nothing. So props to you, Matty Cain. You are Earth's Biggest Badass and, honest to God, no one - NO ONE - deserved it more than you.

(ONE PERSONAL SIDENOTE - I just want to point out that I did my best to help out by keeping the 2 other people I was watching it with from saying the words "no hitter" or "perfect game," and pretty much succeeded, so I'm partially responsible for this, in that I kept it from being jinxed. So when you're handing out the Rolexes, Matt . . . well, I don't want to say anything, but you know what to do.)

OK. LET'S GET TO THE TOPIC AT HAND.

One of the most iconic and immediately noticeable features of Our Town is the street signs.

(Image from vdored123's Flickr stream. Hopefully he doesn't mind.)

Unlike the bland, boring, white-on-green street signs of other bland, boring places, our Much Better Street Signs are ALL CAPS, black on white. Cool looking. It's one of the first things you notice when you come here from somewhere else.

So you can imagine my horror when I was proceeding down Stanyan a while back and saw this:


I know, it's kinda heard to see. You have to give me a break, I shot this pic with an iPhone out of the window of a moving 33 bus yesterday. Anyway, it says "P a g e," not "P A G E".

(It just occurred to me that SF street signs are also notable in that they don't include the road type - i.e., street, boulevard, avenue, whatever. That's probably why a lot of people don't realize that it's Grant AVENUE, not Grant Street, or Arguello BOULEVARD. Last night I was reminded that the street in the Mission is Treat AVENUE, not Treat Street, which is even weirder because there used to be a bar on 24th near Treat called "Treat Street," but I'm getting way off course here.)

SO WHAT THE FUCK! As it turns out:

In 2009, the city adopted something called the Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which says street signs are harder to read in all capital letters, he said.

Therefore, new signs will capitalize the first letter and make the rest lowercase.

"However," Rose [i.e., spokesman guy] said, "we are only doing it as signs need to be replaced."
DO YOU REALIZE WHAT THIS MEANS? We will slowly convert citywide to boring, lowercase signs. In fact, we may be the last generation of San Franciscans to enjoy ALL CAPS street signs. I wonder how long before there aren't any left.

Ugh. Soon they'll all look like this (courtesy of Instagrammer rickinsf):


Just fucking great.

9 comments:

Unknown said...

Thanks for helping out last night. Hope you get your watch.

But more importantly, you're wrong about the street signs. Lower case is easier to read at a distance due to the greater variability in letter forms.

this guy has some of the science and the standard diagrams.

Scurvy said...

I agree about losing the uniqueness of our street signs. Total bummer. I saw one for "Hyde" a few weeks ago and did a double take. I thought it was a bad joke. The typeface is just all wrong and is way too spread out. IT JUST SCREAMS FOR ALL CAPS.

Oh well, guess it's time to go steal the ones from Eddy and Larkin while they're still there.

Tamagosan said...

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggg. This is bad. Since WHEN has SF done things to make it easier to get around? Aren't you just supposed to stick around long enough so you just KNOW? I spotted this phenomenon in Glen Park a few weeks ago (http://twitpic.com/9wfpto) but kept it to myself, thinking that surely it wasn't A Thing. But thanks to this investigative journalism, I now know that the City is doomed. Can't we just focus on something else for a while and then deal with the street signs later? NOT to give anyone the time to steal the old ones, mind you.

As for Cain's phenomenal performance, I will totally give you credit, since I take credit for our 2010 championship being won by my moving to Guam for the year. I turned down tickets last night from my dad AND didn't listen to the game on the radio since I was fixing my record player and then listening to all of my grandfather's jazz records. Where is my head?

dollar_bin said...

I say bring back the spelled out numerical street signs
Fifteenth
Sixteenth

thesoniashow said...

We should all be grateful that they are not using Comic Sans on the new street signs.

jovan b. said...

SF has like hundreds of thousands more people than where I live do. So, as needed is the best they can do.

I am MUCH MORE CONCERNED about losing our uniqueness when it comes to Destination signs and the names of places. No municipality in my home state of SC has gotten the design of a mixed case destination sign correct so far. This is the main reason why mixed case should have remained an option for the names of places on non-Street Name signs - at least the ambiguity would have gone away.

Street Name signs, though, is a different story. I strongly support the mixed case mandate, however, I strongly oppose the harsh limits on the background colors of the blades (only background colors allowed now are green, blue, brown or white - all other background colors prohibited).

In protest of all uppercase signs that popped up from November 1997 to November 2011, I have been writing my address on all fill out forms in all uppercase lettering, and will continue doing so until Barnwell County, S.C. changes all of its signs to mixed case - they should have started installing mixed case signs in May 2011 (as soon as SC adopted the new manual), instead of beginning to do so 13 months later (last month).

Unknown said...

In the 1990's during when Frank Jordan was mayor the complaint was that you couldn't see the street sign names (even in all caps) so up went the large green "freeway type" street signs at mid block on many streets. Now the new street signs are upper and lower case letters which are even harder to see from a distance. Another SF tradition gone.

Mary J. Hale said...

This is awesome. I always notice the street signs and if they have something on them like about the history of the town or something like that. Street signs are just neat. I really like the signs in San Diego. They are pretty awesome. Thanks for posting.

Luke Johnson said...

The change might seem a little hard to accept at first but I think that soon the younger kids will gravitate towards them. I would love some new street signs by my house, my neighbors have had the 2nd half of their sign missing for years now.

Luke | http://bestneonsign.com/maintenance/