Cicchetti veneziani

There’s always a disconnect between the way a city is portrayed on screen and the day-to-day reality of its existence. New York isn’t actually surly taxi drivers and whistling construction workers; you can’t see the Eiffel Tower from every street in Paris. But Venice is the exception. There is nowhere else like it. What’s more, […]

Foreign Interventions in (Calle) Honduras

You can tell you’re in Palermo by the names of the streets: Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica — every one of them running parallel to the Rio de la Plata a different Central American country. Together with the bright pastels and fluorescents of the buildings that line them, these calles give the Buenos Aires barrio […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Latin America, Politics by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Foreign Interventions in (Calle) Honduras , , , , , ,

Street Signs and Street Art

San Telmo, Buenos Aires Palermo, Buenos Aires

Swiss Lane: Still Mysterious

Last year, after returning from Montreal, I posted about a Mile End alley with a strange name that doesn’t appear anywhere in the city’s official toponymical records. Nobody has yet come forward with an answer as to how Swiss Lane got its name, but one Flickr user, DubyDub2009, did a bit of extra research and […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Canada, Heritage and Preservation, History, Maps by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Swiss Lane: Still Mysterious , , , ,

The Mystery of Swiss Lane

Even after seven years of walking its streets, I’m still finding new things in Mile End, the neighbourhood I called home before I left Montreal. Back for a visit last month, I got around mostly by bike, which took me down streets on which I wouldn’t normally walk, like the quiet stretch of Casgrain in […]


Street sign on Taipa, Macau

Four Generations

Hong Kong has a wealth of street signs from different eras, but unlike Montreal, political and linguistic tensions are buried far beneath the surface. No matter what the age or style, Hong Kong street signs follow a formula: black text, white background, English above Chinese. There have been some minor variations through the years; in […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Four Generations , ,

New Signs in Old Montreal

For all that I’ve written about Montreal’s street signs, I haven’t mentioned much about the signs found in Old Montreal, the city’s birthplace and one of its most important tourist attractions. Although the signs here are meant to reflect the red-and-beige colour scheme of the city’s first street signs, they are actually a recent invention, […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Canada, Heritage and Preservation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on New Signs in Old Montreal , ,

Welcome to Hampstead

Writers and journalists looking for a quick and easy symbol of Montreal’s political and linguistic divide usually find one in the city’s downtown west end. There, in the shadow of the Montreal Children’s Hospital, René Lévesque Boulevard turns into Dorchester Avenue as it crosses Atwater and passes from Montreal into Westmount, a remnant of the […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Canada, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Welcome to Hampstead , , ,

Language in Toulouse

Toulouse is a large, cosmopolitan but relaxed and laid back southern French city. It feels like it has as much in common with nearby Spain as with northern France. The bilingual street signs here are a tantalising reminder of how the city’s history could have been different. Had Occitanie remained a distinct culture and society […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Europe, Society and Culture by Donal Hanley Comments Off on Language in Toulouse , , , ,

Chinatown, Greektown

Toronto, like many cities across North America, uses its street signs to identify neighbourhoods. Chinatown and Greektown are no exception. In Greektown, which extends along the Danforth for several blocks, Greek signs are posted above the standard English signs. It’s more a token recognition of the neighbourhood’s historical ethnic character than anything else. In the […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Canada by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Chinatown, Greektown , , , ,

Calgary’s Missing Street Names

I’ve always resented the fact that Calgary’s streets are numbered. Not just numbered, but numbered according to quadrant, so that streets are known as 4th Street SW or 36th Avenue NE, and 4th Street and 4th Avenue intersect not just once, but four times, in each corner of the city. What makes this even worse […]

More Exceptional Street Signs

Even now, 40 years after Bill 101 mandated that Montreal conduct its official business in French only, it is not uncommon to find old English or bilingual public signs. While some ideologues might consider this a bad thing, I’m inclined to view it as a window into Montreal’s past, and a fascinating one at that. […]

Lincoln Avenue

Hidden in a corner of downtown Montreal, on a residential street named Lincoln Avenue, is a treasure trove of old street signs. They are in English, but surprisingly enough, they do not appear to have been taped over. Among the signs is an especially rare kind with white lettering and a blue background; it must […]

Posted in: Canada, Heritage and Preservation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Lincoln Avenue , ,