A Utilitarian Treasure

Alissa Walker uncovers the secret history of this Eagle Rock signpost

Los Angeles is in many ways like a treasure map, with clues pointing us in search of hidden discoveries—if we’re paying attention. I’ve probably walked by these very basic signs tacked on a utility pole hundreds of times, but for some reason they only caught my eye for the first time one afternoon late this summer. They read EAGLE ROCK, FAIRFAX, WABASH, each word in a slightly different font, like some kind of geographical haiku with a message I couldn’t quite decipher. After some poking around online, and with the help of social media friends, I found an actual map that solved the puzzle: The words are the names of nearby electrical substations in Southern California that these lines travel to. Many poles have been updated with numerical codes instead, but these signs stuck around, hinting at the invisible infrastructure network that travels just above our heads.

Alissa Walker is a writer, a gelato eater, and a walker in L.A. She shares an experience from her adventures around town at CityThink each Wednesday. Follow her daily on Instagram at @awalkerinLA, on Twitter, or at her blog, and use the hashtag #betteroffped to share your own photographs of walking in L.A.