Area Wayfinding Signs Aren’t Always as Helpful as You’d Think

Wayfinding signs, like this one at Georgia Avenue and Rock Creek Church Road, can be found throughout the city

Here’s something to see how observant most of us are. Wayfinding signs, like the one to the right, can be found throughout the city. They are intended to be helpful, especially to those who find themselves looking for something outside of familiar territory. However, it was recently brought to my attention by a resident on Quebec Place (thank you Christine) that they can also be sources of embarrassment.

Many of these signs are riddled with typographical errors … some being quite obvious. Most of us probably don’t notice the errors because we look at the signs quickly in passing, but if you actually read the signs you can occasionally catch an error. Here are some recent examples.

The sign on Upshur at New Hampshire places the apostrophe before the "S"

The sign pictured above has two errors, one major and one common.  If you look closely at the word Soldiers’ you’ll notice that the apostrophe is before the “S” rather than after. I see this a lot when it comes to this word. Another example is on the sign at Upshur and New Hampshire Ave., NW (see above). The major error is with the word “Soldier”. For some reason it is spelled with the “I” before the “D” on both sides of the sign.

The sign on the east side of the wayfinding sign at Uphsur and 2nd has been removed

While I don’t know what circumstances exist that lead to such errors, it does appear that there is hope that we can get them corrected. I’ve contacted DDOT and they indicated that they will send someone out to look at the sign and make a recommendation on how to correct it. I’m not sure what the timeline will be, but I did find one sign of hope from the sign at Upshur and 2nd Street NW. Currently the sign facing the Soldiers’ Home’s Eagle Gate has been removed. This is presumably so that it can be replaced.

If you look at the photograph below of that sign prior to removal, you can see the typos that needed to be addressed — these being that the neighborhood was spelled as “Pentworth” and cemetery was spelled with an “A”.

All of this leads me to wonder if all signs in the area need to be examined. This past weekend I checked out the area from Quebec to Upshur. Next weekend I’ll need to check out the signs to the south. Does anyone know of any signs near them that need to be reported?

This sign, formerly at Upshur and 2nd Street, NW, included the gems Pentworth and Cemetary

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6 Comments on “Area Wayfinding Signs Aren’t Always as Helpful as You’d Think”

  1. Angry Parakeet Says:

    Someone is not doing their job. I remember when a big new green “Main Avenue” (sic) sign went up at its exit off the 14th street bridge.
    A PoPular neighborhood blogger still hasn’t learned the “it’s” vs. “its” rules.


  2. A couple more things that are wrong with these signs: the use of reverse (white) type and insufficient space between words, both of which decrease readability.

    It’s the responsibility of the client – the City – to approve or not approve the proofs, including the design itself as well as the content. But professional designers rarely deliver proofs with spelling or grammatical errors. Clients depend on us to do the work properly. Most of us pay proofreaders.

    Did City workers do the design themselves, or hire a generic sign company rather than professional designers?


  3. […] Stupid signs. [ParkViewDC] […]


  4. […] really have to give credit to DDOT on how responsive they’ve been on the erroneous wayfinding signs brought to their attention on Friday, 9/30.  By the next business day (10/3), the signs had been […]

  5. CL Says:

    The worst I ever saw was on one of the newer gray bus shelters: “Coneticutt Ave & Kolorama Rd.” Fortunately, it was fixed not too long after it went up.

  6. Kevin Says:

    There is a sign at the corner of East Capitol and 18th St SE that has an error. The arrow for “Congressional Cemetary” points the wrong way into a dead end.


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