Secret Language on the Sidewalk: Decoding ‘Utility Graffiti’

Secret Language on the Sidewalk: Decoding ‘Utility Graffiti’

Jacob Fenston | WAMU

If you start looking for painted utility marks on sidewalks and streets, you’ll notice them everywhere. Just do it: walk outside and look down.

These urban hieroglyphics are so much a part of the city landscape that they otherwise go unnoticed. But not by Ned Cabot. He lives on Capitol Hill and he sees them all over, including right outside his front door. He asked What’s With Washington: “I want to know what they are. Why do they spray paint these marks sometimes, and then not come up and do some obvious big utility project?”

He calls these ubiquitous marks “utility graffiti.” While they may seem unsightly, they’re part of a system that keeps us all safe and prevents damage to the vast network beneath our feet…(Read the full story)

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