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Photos of the Cryptic Markings Found on the Streets of New York City


In New York City, one of the things you’ll often see on street surfaces is cryptic and colorful scribbles left by utility companies. Photographer Joseph O. Holmes decided to turn these scribbles into artistic street photography (literally). His project is titled “Tracing the Underground: Street Utility Markings in New York City.”

Times Square

Each of these bird’s-eye photos shows the markings that are left by utility workers to alert construction workers of vulnerable underground infrastructure — things like utility lines, trenches, and ducts.

Hudson Street

“Though many markings are nothing more than crude and functional labels, they’re sometimes applied with such finesse and care as to become ephemeral bits of street art,” Holmes tells PetaPixel.

Lafayette and Bond
West Broadway
Prince and Greene Streets
Spring and Wooster
West Village
Rivington Street
Times Square
West Broadway and Reade

This is an ongoing series, and you can follow along through the project page on Holmes’ website.