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Posted on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Missing Ann Arbor street signs: Sophomoric humor, common names and college keepsakes

By Pete Cunningham

Just north of downtown Ann Arbor sits a tiny one-way street connecting Carey Street and North State Street.

Once on the road, there’s no way of actually knowing because there are no street signs along it. The name of the street makes it pretty obvious why.

It’s the three-block stretch of High Street.


All the High Street signs have gone missing.

Melanie Maxwell |

For the entirety of the two years Katherine Hollins has lived on High Street, the street sign at the Carey Street intersection has been missing. She said the Elizabeth Street intersection sign went missing about six months ago. She assumes it was stolen, along with the other missing signs on the street.

“I don’t know where it went or what happened to it, or if the city is planning to replace it, but it’s a short street so I guess it doesn’t matter that much,” Hollins said.

According to city records, signs on 27 of the more than 1,000 streets in Ann Arbor have been replaced two or more times in the past five years, including High Street. Though the city doesn’t track why street signs need to be replaced, with street names like Easy, High, Morehead and Hiscock on the list, it’s probably safe to assume many are stolen by young people looking for a cheap laugh.

"I don’t know if I think a couple kids stealing street signs is exactly the most dangerous thing in Ann Arbor…it’s not that big of a deal to me,” said Clare Croft, who lives at the corner of Gott and Hiscock streets, both of which are on the city’s replacement list.

The signs at that unfortunately named intersection stand roughly 30 feet in the air - about three times as high as the signs in the surrounding area - to ward off theft.

Croft said she believes foot traffic minimizes theft as well.

“I feel like this is a very busy intersection, actually, so you’d have to have a pretty big desire to get those signs with all the people walking around here,” Croft said.

Street signs on Morehead Street also stick out as mounted particularly high compared to those surrounding.


The signs at Ann Arbor's most unfortunately named intersection sit roughly three times as high as those on the surrounding blocks.

Melanie Maxwell |

City spokeswoman Lisa Wondrash said some of the street signs that have been replaced repeatedly by the field operations staff have been mounted high to deter theft. Sometimes, though, she said signs are mounted higher to avoid obstruction or simply because a tall pole was at the city’s disposal rather than a short one.

A resident on Morehead Street knows which category his block falls under.

“Our street sign makes the list of everyone’s scavanger hunt,” the resident said via email.

Not every missing sign is related to sophomoric humor. Others on the list such as John and Elizabeth streets are common names that may have a higher amount of people seeking a keepsake.

According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, John was among the top 20 most popular given male names in the years that today’s undergraduate students would have been born, and Elizabeth was the ninth most popular given female name every year from 1990-94.

Undergraduate students are, of course, prime suspects the missing sign culprits with streets heavily populated by student housing and known for general debauchery on the list such as Greenwood and Oakland avenues and nearby Arch and Vaughn streets.

Mike Roarty, a 2008 University of Michigan graduate and former East University Avenue resident, said he and his friends found stealing a street sign was easier said - or rather, drunkenly considered - than done.

“On a whim we tried (to steal a sign on East University). We had a ladder and everything, but we got beat by technology…it was screwed on there pretty good,” said Roarty. “We tried for about 15 minutes, then realized there was more beer left in the keg.”

Roarty said he and his roommates wanted the sign as memento from their college days and that buying one at a store or online just wouldn’t have been the same.

Roarty now lives in Chicago and said he hasn’t attempted to steal a sign since his college days.

“I’m not sure how much money is in that career field,” he said with a laugh.

Contact Pete Cunningham at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Robert Hughes

Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

There was so much outrage about the graffiti. Why is this different?

Robert Hughes

Wed, Jun 27, 2012 : 2:07 a.m.

My girlfriend says: by removing a stop sign, you endanger someone's life, but you can't say the same about any graffiti.


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

I have 3 of those signs!!!


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 5:56 a.m.

I always get a kick out of driving past Hiscock. Greatest name in the history of names. It's named after an early mayor of AA. I wonder how people felt about Hiscock in the Mayor's office.

Unusual Suspect

Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 2:08 a.m.

I think this article comes in a close second to the Graholm-should-have-checked-to-see-if-anybody-died-in-Grand-Rapids-before-Tweeting-from-California fiasco.

UM Rocks

Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

There is a Hemphill in Ypsi off Forest!! :o)

Ann English

Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 10:29 p.m.

I do remember that street off Forest now that you bring it up; I used to know a family living in the Woodcreek Apartments to the east of it, off Forest.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

Liberty and Independence are the two most valuable street signs in the city proper.

Ann English

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

What about changing Hiscock to Engel? That way, the intersection of Gott and Engel Streets translated from the German would be "God and Angel" streets. Stream and River would be other suitable name replacements for Hiscock, for this area is within the Sunset, Brooks, Miller and Ann Arbor Railroad borders of Water Hill. I know Ypsi has a River Street, but they have a Catherine Street too.

Ann English

Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

a2citizen, Before I read this article, I always thought of Hiscock being almost Hitchcock. Nothing else, nothing more. I was aware of this street since 1969 or 1970. I didn't find out about the Cherry Street nearby until 1984. I used to know someone who lived on Summit Street.


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 2:47 a.m.

Ann, why should the name be changed? In today's society it is perfectly acceptable for people, male and female, to enjoy living on Hiscock.

UM Rocks

Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

And Hemphill!!

Paula Gardner

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

Ypsilanti also has a High street.

Ann English

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

I figure this article was written to help us get around town and recognize streets we go past despite the missing street signs. The names are on the Google maps supplied for stories, and on paper maps. But the most frequently stolen ones can cause the most trouble for visitors. They can get this information from further away than they could when the paper was strictly hardcopy. From states away, since the information is on the Internet. How about a subsequent story about the most frequently missing street signs in Ypsilanti? I've been jogging my memory about where I recently was where one cross street after another was missing, so I kept going through intersections. Now I remember; it was on Michigan Avenue in Ypsilanti, east of Huron Street. Or does this sound like triple the work of THIS article?

Marcus Adams

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

Maybe the city should sell replica's of its most stolen signs on their website.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

"Ann Arbors most unfortunately named intersection....." . ahahahaha. Good one. You forgot to take a pic of John Holmes. it runs between Dexter-Ann Arbor and Pratt. The signs missing quite often. Heh


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

Re: "Raise your hand if you Googled John Holmes to understand this comment." hand raised!! Oh my!! They say you learn something new every day!!!


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 6:37 p.m.

They probably went to take a photo of the signs and they are gone. ahahaha.

Ann English

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

Why aren't Sullivan Drive signs stolen nearby, do thieves fear getting beaten up by a boxer? Decades ago, the residents on Plum Street voted to change their street name to John A. Woods Drive, for he left a good legacy in that neighborhood.

Pete Cunningham

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

Raise your hand if you Googled John Holmes to understand this comment. I wouldn't recommend doing the same, especially if you're at a work computer.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

For Michigan signs, nothing can top the infamous sign outside of Troy: "Exit 69 Big Beaver Road"


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 6:02 a.m.

Hiscock beats Big Beaver easily.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

Sophomoric humor? How about CRIMINAL ACT?? It would show up on your criminal history as Larceny when someone does a background check during a job application process. Ranks right up there with Minor in Possession. Not a big deal when you do it, but with the number of people looking for work today it might just be the difference. A "college keepsake" that you might not enjoy so much later!


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

I had a friend in Southgate who like to say he lived off of "Dix and Brest", he did... right on the corner.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Ahh, this Downriver guy should have remembered that famous Lincoln Park intersection.

David Bardallis

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

Living off Dix and Champaign -- even better.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

I believe it was a feature on the NBC TV series "Real People" (1979-1984) which made the Ann Arbor intersection of Nixon and Bluett nationally famous. (Richard M. Nixon was forced to resign his presidency 8/8/1974.) So the media drawing attention of even more eponymous coincidences is probably the prime cause of street sign thefts (as this article will likely prove beyond doubt).

Paula Gardner

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Here's hoping that "Gardner" street isn't among the next thefts. Would hate to be a suspect:)


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Great story, not.

Kai Petainen

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

HA... welcome to Michigan. Don't forget the towns of Hell, Paradise, Climax, Bad Axe, Big Beaver, Christmas, Vulcan (near Norway), Mesick.... For those who wonder what's the difference between Hell and Paradise? 340 miles.

UM Rocks

Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

Dont forget Mount Pleasant!!


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

Let us not forget that MIchigan is also a State with two places known as Podunk, and another known as Hodunk. Not to mention the unique cluster of City names Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Saline.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

As we used to say in Pennsylvania in the 70s (when the state of Virginia had its famous tourism commercials), "Virginia may be for lovers, but only Pennsylvania has Intercourse."


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

The list is endless: we might also include town names such as Sears, Hershey and Nirvana as well.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Don't forget Romulus for the Star Trek fans!


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

My time and attention are way too important to waste on stories such as this. It's very selfish of to remove my attention from solving world hunger or instilling world peace. It took a very inflated sense of self-importance to post this story.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Ann Arbor has a street named Hiscock? Is the National Association Of Gals going to protest this with a candle light reading of the Vagina Monologs?


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 6:03 a.m.

I'm rather proud of Hiscock.

Will Warner

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

The NAG?

Unusual Suspect

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

On behalf of all privileged males I apologize for the naming of this street.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

I love the posters that read the article and then choose to spend their time being grumpy and post that this isn't news and that should instead be creating Pulitzer winning work covering Obamacare, etc. You know... it is OK to smile and have fun. Perhaps we could have an story on the curiously poor dispositions of some of the commentors on

Unusual Suspect

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

Or a story about comments about other commenters and their comments.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

I'm shocked that nobody has mentioned John Holmes Rd!

Ann English

Thu, Jun 28, 2012 : 10:21 p.m.

I have no idea who John Holmes is or was, but you got me wondering who Barry Knoll is or was. Signs for that street don't get stolen, probably because it's in a subdivision. No businesses on it. No questions about Dan Hoey. The Hoey family has contributed to Dexter for generations.


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

I give. Who is John Holmes?


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

I've often wondered how often that sign is stolen. It's one of my favorite unfortunate street names in the area.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1 p.m.

I have always thought that newspapers should provide something for everyone. This article was "fun," and obviously not meant to be earthshaking news. As I read it - all the way to the end - it made me wonder - How much does it cost to replace signs? If someone was caught stealing a sign, what would the consequences be? Including that sort of information would have made it more "newsworthy", I suppose... Don't we all just love "interactive" on-line news? Everyone gets to be an editor, publisher, writer, and critic. It is a perfect place for wanna-be journalists like me!


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

The Supreme Court is about to rule on Obamacare and writes about the case of the missing Hiscock St. Street sign.......


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

It's astounding to me how few people seem to know the difference between a hard news story and a feature story. This is a feature story, people, and a pretty good one at that.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 9:13 p.m. is not a national news source. It is a local blog. If you want important national news coverage, go to a serious national news blog.

Erik Gable

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.

What do you want them to do -- send a reporter to Washington to cover the same thing already being covered by a couple dozen other outlets? When I go to, I expect to read things about Ann Arbor. I can go elsewhere for Supreme Court coverage.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.

Actually I am having CTN withdrawal. But I'll take anything on a slow day.

Some Guy in 734

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

YpsiLivin... I believe the preferred term around these parts is "print product".


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

The stories you get on the website are just teasers. If you want real news, you have to subscribe to the print edition. ;)


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

Hey - it beats another Mark's Carts article!


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

Kudos on the article. Not everything needs to be so serious on this site. Pete, food for thought - what about a weekly column from you with articles in this same vein? You have a knack and true talent for humorous writing, so use it more. Unless, of course, this article was meant to be serious. In that case, forget what I said...

Pete Cunningham

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

Thanks for the compliment and feedback.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Did anybody mention Nixon/Bluett yet?


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

I always enjoyed Felch St.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

I was wondering if someone was going to mention Felch St. The first time I drove by it, I have to turn around because I thought I misread it.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

I hope those people who do the "top 10 smartest cities" list aren't reading today.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

@ EyeHeartA2, re: "rigthy (sic) tighty, lefty loosey." Actually, Rawl Zamac Nailins are the "tamper-proof" (make that tamper-resistant) fastener of choice. 2008 was a long time ago, and he was drinking. He just doesn't remember why he couldn't "unscrew" it.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

You forgot Nixon / Bluett.. but then again you are probably too young to remember the significance of that!


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

Actually by the time 12th grade hits, most of our history stops just before the Vietnam war. Kind of sad really. They did get rid of most of the Greek and Egyptian stuff and start just after the Spanish visit the Mayans.

MD from ChiTown

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

Evidently these kids aren't history majors. Talking about the dumbing down of America....


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

oh. my. The video IS awful, also. You sure this isn't "The Onion" website?


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

you should include my favorite - Nixon/Bluett!

Pete Cunningham

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

Neither Nixon or Bluett was on the list of replaced signs, but I do agree, that is a hilariously named intersection.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:15 p.m.

How soon we forget Nixon Bluett! And many of the reader comments are far more sophomoric than the signs.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

I was hoping someone would mention this one. This is my all time favorite.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

"we got beat by technology…it was screwed on there pretty good" Yep, rigthy tighty, lefty loosey. - that there is some real technology. Obviously LS&A.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

No one steals Felch?

Kitty O'Brien

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

-4 out of 5 readers just looked up Felch in the urban dictionary.

Jimmy McNulty

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 9:33 p.m.



Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:35 p.m. beat me to the punch. Unfortunately I already posted my Felch joke. Now everybody is going to laugh at me.

Middle America

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:44 a.m.

The news that matters, the news that affects you: ANNARBOR.COM!

Jimmy McNulty

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

Hahaha! Now this is a funny story. As for the humor being sophomoric, well I personally still find fart jokes funny. Also, who doesn't love a good name that sounds dirty but really isn't?


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

Heh....didn't even know we had a Morehead street.....never seen a sign for it.

Ann English

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

smokeblwr, Since I don't know where Craven Blvd is either, Morehead must be at the southern end of Seventh Street, where I never have a reason to go to or through.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

cuz it was STOLEN? lol...I love how crimes can be so minimized in a2


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

It intersects with Craven Blvd.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:01 a.m.

Also, you won't see the video at Sundance or Cannes anytime soon.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.

Call the Pulitzer nominating committee!


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 10:27 a.m.

Really? This is news how? You are joining ranks with other lesser news rags. Grow up.

Ann English

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

I thought I knew Seventh Street pretty well, but I had never heard of Morehead Street until now. Seems like Rose is as common as Elizabeth for streets around here. Why not steal Rose signs, is it one of the more unpopular names? Before I started reading the article, I thought that it would be reported that Jones Drive was commonly stolen, but no.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Someone needs to make an Bingo card. "How is this news?" would definitely be a popular square.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

This just in: is NOT the New York Times! (Sheesh. It's summer. Lighten up.)

Rod J

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

Got you to read it.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.

Is the Internet filling up?