Most Confusing Traffic Signs Ever

I came across this photo in the Library of Congress’ archives. It’s clear that these traffic signs are completely unclear. How the hell do you make sense of this?

"Walk," "Don't Walk," "No Right Turn," "Thru Only": a complicated traffic signal to uncomplicate Washington, D.C., traffic, 1949. 306-PS-49-2682. (National Archives)
“Walk,” “Don’t Walk,” “No Right Turn,” “Thru Only”: a complicated traffic signal to uncomplicate Washington, D.C., traffic, 1949. 306-PS-49-2682. (National Archives)

From the Lorstan Photographers studio in the background, it is somewhere on F St. NW, probably in the 1950 (a guess). In the 1940s, Lorstan was located at 1429 F St. and in the 1950s, their address moved to 1119 F St. If you know a little more about this location, please feel free to comment below.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • WFY

    I remember a few of those neon pedestrian signals were still around in the 1980s.

  • kat miller

    Yes, they were the basis for Lilly Tomlin’s joke about being at the corner of “Walk” and “Don’t Walk.” There was even one on L Street that said, “Don’t Start.”

  • mary

    As a native Washingtonian, I could never understand why outsiders made jokes about our “One way from 3PM to 6PM” and other time-specific signs.
    It was just how it was, and I never had a problem with them.