(In honor of my first sub-zero degree day in Chicago, let’s talk about somewhere warm.) You can tell a lot about a place by its government-sanctioned signage. One of the more obscure reasons I love San Diego is because of its signs, and how they always seem to communicate more than the obvious.
Plastering the freeways are signs for “8 West – Beaches.” Everywhere. Not LA, not Palm Springs, not another town or city, but Beaches. The direction of beaches… all of them (you know, cause they’re all right next to each other). It must be tough driving to work every day past a dozen signs reminding you of a place that you’d rather be besides than your office. Cruel and unusual for commuters, helpful for tourists, and all around very telling of the culture down there. Does this not seem to hint where priorities lie in this sunny corner of America?
While many cities around the world are full of subtle cues (and small signs) that label their various urban districts, San Diego likes the massive in-your-face approach. These twenty-foot tall behemoths of signs serving as gateways between their ‘hoods. They stick out. They can’t be avoided. They glow at night, even through the thickest of fog that comes off the ocean and floods the city. They make sure you always know where you are. But I’ll tell you what else…. they also communicate confidence, and a certain pride in their neighborhoods that you don’t see everywhere. Where do you think you are? You’re in NORTH PARK – that’s where!
So next time you’re traveling and see a sign that seems out of the ordinary, look harder. Read deeper.