Point Me in the Direction of…Direction Signs to Anywhere But Here


How can you not fall in love with directional signs? I like them so much but I don’t know why. Directional signs drop hints telling us we might consider being somewhere else. Head to Thermopolis, Wyoming one says pointing the way. I shouldn’t demystify the signs suggestion that you wander off these signs inspire the idea going elsewhere by pointing you in the general path of other places. The rest is up to you. Sure these signs are meant for fun. Then there are the functional versions because most people are just trying to get to the bathroom. 

Hit the Beach

For directional signs that favor practicality over whimsy, I offer the prime example. This sign’s job is to point to stores. Another out of work sign twirler! Some functional directional signs are crafty, bright and fun. The sign at Jantzen Beach is bare bones, a means to help people locate the big box store corral. It’s a directory of most of the stores with its triangular arrows pointed in one direction. You can’t miss the shopping if you head that way. The sign orients people, letting them know they’ve landed at Jantzen Beach. There is no arrow pointed to the actual beach because sadly that is gone and so is the amusement park and the carousel. 

In the Grove

Directional signs add an air of quaintness to any business district. They’re visually interesting and effective, even in small outcrops of civilization like the one in Oak Grove, a neighborhood somewhere out near Gladstone that we rolled through on a bike camping trip some number of summers ago. I guess what seemed silly was the need to direct people given the small sized business district. The signs practically point directly to their stores. The sign flaps form arrows, many include illustrations. They make nice bird rests too. The top of the sign welcomes visitors to the Oak Grove historic district noting that it’s a half mile from the Willamette River. All cynicism aside, I enjoyed my visit to Oak Grove despite not getting off my bike. 

Nothing Amusing Here

At Oaks Amusement Park you’re competing with a brightly colored roller coaster so it’s necessary to make the directional signs basic and easy to read. No one should be confused post loop to loop when they then need to find the train station, buy more ride tickets or find a restroom. Direct directions let people get back to their fun. 

Dairy, Oh Dairy

This sign reveals a sad state of affairs that was the end of the recreational activity the Alpenrose Dairy used to offer. I enjoyed visits to the Alpenrose a couple of summers ago watching little league world championship softball games and milling around the faux western town complete with an opera house. I was fascinated by the Velodrome bike track watching bicyclists train. The end times were reflected in the peeling lettering of this directional sign but the various fonts are appealing. The sign still manages to guide wanderers unless one was really hoping to go to the orfice. 

See the World

In the Central Eastside neighborhood, I’m guessing around SE 11th Street, I spotted this directional sign with lots of options for where one could go. It’s hard to tell which yard of the house it’s in, back, front, side but it matters not. It feels industrial with its bolts and regular street sign post material. It has great symmetry. It looks good. You’ll find many options of places and the miles you’d have to travel to get there. Your mileage could vary. Decide on Europe, Canada, the U.S. or Australia. There aren’t arrows pointing the way so it might help to carry a compass. 

Valhalla Is Real?

This sign duo spotted in Montavilla, near Mt. Tabor, offers many options and directions to head to so it makes sense that two posts were needed. They’re a nice addition to this empty field. The top of the signs make sure to remind us that we’re in the U.S.A. The signs clear black script on a white background with black arrow tops point out random places. Although I’m left wondering if Valhalla is a real place. It’s hard to tell why these places were selected. Maybe people need to head off and find out. It’s only 2,980 miles to Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Tell ‘em a directional sign in Portland sent you. 

Things Are Great When You’re Downtown

This directional sign is the most ornate of the bunch. It’s topped with a weather vane and a bronze ball. It has a function beyond its ornateness being a local landmark at Pioneer Square downtown– possibly the meeting place for many a blind date? It can help you get as far away as you might need to get while also offering local points of interest too.

Tigard or Bust!

I caught this directional sign wrapped in a smoky glow from our late summer forest fires while heading up SW Walnut Street. It was great to greet this landmark parked in the middle of a concrete roundabout. It includes local landmarks like John Tigard’s house and City Hall. I’m curious why my phone lists this as Area 10 in Portland when it’s clearly in Tigard. Expect a full three part investigation into the mysteries of Area 10 soon. This post has devolved into way more of a review of directional signs than I expected but I do feel like this one has some great attributes. There are the colors, the usefulness in actual must-see locations along with some of the wonders of the world like the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids. The sign also is a reminder that anytime you get a couple miles down the road you’re that much closer to Balikpapan. 

Pot To Shop In

I spotted a sign for various weed businesses at a pot festival a few summers ago. The sign was colorful but didn’t use arrows other than the one directing people to their products. I half expect Dr. Phil to jump out of the bamboo to declare that this sign has no motivation. The sign advertises wares but it doesn’t exactly tell you where they are. Stumble around the weed convention for a few more hours and the sign might start to make sense.

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