You can find them along the 1st Street corridor in Downtown Los Angeles, in the Civic Center and Little Tokyo areas. The aluminum signs are slightly larger than the current city street signage and have "wings" on the top and bottom, displaying the City Seal on the top wing and the block number and direction on the bottom wing.
These signs aren't all that new; they were first spotted in June of 2009, like the Main Street sign pictured above left. You would have expected The Militant to do a post on the signs back then, but he
This week, though, The Militant noticed more of these signs popping up - this time outside the Civic Center, like this sign (pictured right) on 1st and Alameda.
When he first saw the signs nearly two years ago, he thought they were kind of strange, mainly because of their UFO/Chevrolet logo shape, but admittedly, they have grown on him. They're large, and have larger lettering, which means they are more visible to motorists and pedestrians (and cyclists, too, of course) alike. Second, they are the first Los Angeles street signage to acknowledge the City of Los Angeles outright. Very important in this region of nearly 90 suburbs, satellite cities and unincorporated areas, of which street signage is the one of two tell-tale ways to know exactly which city you are in (calling 9-1-1 and seeing which police department shows up is the other, but The Militant doesn't recommend you do that...).
The street signs are the first new signs to pop up on Los Angeles streets in some 25 years, and are now the 5th commonly-found street sign type in town. It would be awesome if our City's street signs were all eventually uniformly updated to this one (though with the City budget ish, keep dreamin'...of course, the City can probably make some sweet revenue selling the old street signs for $50-$100 a pop, but you know an idea like that won't go nowhere in the City's bureaucracy...). Here's a little historical primer of Los Angeles street signs from the past several decades:
The "Shotgun" Sign (made 1946-1962) - Supposedly called because of the resemblance of the sign's shape to a shotgun, these signs are the oldest common street signs found in Los Angeles (though older ones still exist in various spots). These porcelain signs feature two faces and a hollow center. They are black with white upper-case block lettering, and the street type and direction contain a period at the end of the abbreviation. Though over 60 years old, these signs are the second most-commonly found street sign type in the City.
The "Black Blade" Sign (1967-1973) - These signs were made of aluminum and came in two pieces: The larger one with the street name and type, and a smaller one below with the block number and direction. Note the lack of the period at the end of the abbreviation. Also, these signs are supposedly the first street signs in America to feature lower-case letters. The lettering and border trim are made of reflective material for better visibility at night. BTW, Royalton Place is up in the hills near Coldwater Canyon Drive.
The "Blue Blade" Sign - (1973-1985) Here we have the world's most famous intersection showing off two examples of this sign, which is generally an update of the Black Blade sign. Also made of aluminum, this sign is made on a blue reflective background. Many of these signs are still visible on the City's streets today. Interestingly, unincorporated Los Angeles County streets use a nearly-identical sign type, (with a slightly lighter shade of blue) for their streets.
The "Trapezoid" Sign - (1985-Present) Unlike the previous two designs, this sign features the street name, type, block number and direction on the same piece. Made of porcelain-coated steel (with a thin hollow center), this particular sign type started appearing in 1985 and is the current and most commonly-found street sign used in Los Angeles. The angled outside edge of the sign gives it a trapezoidal shape.
Of course, this primer only covers the standard street signs placed on street corners and not the larger motorist-oriented boulevard signs that hang from traffic lights. That would be another post for another day. But you might want to check out this experimental LED boulevard sign in Downtown that the city sprang $3,000 for (the regular ones only cost $70)! But now you know all about Los Angeles' street sign types (dare The Militant say, you're now, "Street Smart?"), and you will surely now become The Life of the Party* with your newly-gained militant knowledge!
* You know The Militant is!