Thursday, July 15, 2010


As I made mention way back in my first post about our trip to Philly, I noticed tennis shoes tossed over power lines.

I knew I remembered this from a movie my children watched when they were younger, a basketball player and a local young player?? I don’t remember, but I also know I have heard since that it signifies a gang area. Traveler said she heard that it meant you could buy drugs in that area. I found it entertaining though. Scattered throughout the city tennis shoes were hanging. Most the time we were on them before I had a chance to grab the camera – I don’t know why it intrigued me, but it became a joke, too, every time I saw them hanging.

As we did a pre-drive through the neighborhood of one potential room to rent, beyond the broken down cars, the rough neighborhood inhabitants and the hard core urban jungle feel, we saw the shoes hanging! Nope not here.

Since I am not one to run too fast with iffy information, I have googled about the hanging shoes. I found many ideas about the shoes tossed over the lines:

tennis shoes hanging over a power line meant you could buy crack there.

It's a time-honored tradition to throw your sneakers over the power lines on the last day of school.

Either they're meant to increase visibility for low-flying aircraft, frighten rattlesnakes away, or just for the hell of it.

a gang sign — sneakers hanging over telephone or electrical wires were to designate gang turf.

a former shoe thrower. After getting a new pair of sneakers, it was a common ritual in my neighborhood to tie the shoelaces of your old pair together and throw them up on the telephone wires. What else are you going to do with your old pair of sneakers?

Some neighborhoods it signifies the death of someone

A rite of passage for a forthcoming marriage

In Scotland, it possibly announces to a young man’s friends that he has lost his...well you know . . . .

Either they're meant to increase visibility for low-flying aircraft, frighten rattlesnakes away, or just for the hell of it.
What a list, from the sinister, to the sad, to jubilant to just ornery...

I like to think that in Philly, it just added to the use of art that was so prevalent throughout the city. So I think Shoefiti is the perfect title for shoes on a power line. So go express yourself, give 'em something to talk about, toss some shoes! Well maybe not, you might have some unwanted visitors . . .


tale of many cities said...

LOL.. too funny! i have always heard it meant gang territory, but like you discovered.. who knows for sure! have a great day!

FancyHorse said...

I'd never heard of that at all, but in a way it reminds me of what I recently learned about eruv
Wikipedia link

Gayle said...

Haha! That is pretty interesting. With my poor aiming ability, I'd throw the shoes and miss the wire and break my neighbor's window! Or, they'd fall back down on my head!

The Muse said...

it is also a tradition when you leave the military...*boots of course
there is a lot of tossing to get those suckers up there, let me tell you! LOL

Sandy said...

Now this is interesting, as I have many times seen shoes thrown over the read.

thanks for visiting my blog.

The Rustic Victorian said...

There is a tree on the highway, way out, there is nothing there, anywhere, I like to think it is just fun.
Gayle made me kind of gal...giggle..

Shell in your Pocket said...

too funny-

learn and hear something new everyday!

sandy toe