A "Where's Waldo" game that you can play on the freeway.

Today's Postcard comes from Southern California, where photographer Emily Shur has been documenting the many faces of the cell phone towers that dot the landscape. 

Cell phone towers started popping up in Los Angeles in the 1990s. In Southern California, many were disguised as trees to sooth NIMBYs.

Shur, based in Los Angeles, noticed her first tree-shaped cell tower when one went up across the street from her house. She discovered more as she drove around the city. "I mostly notice them along freeways or close to a freeway," says the photographer, adding that the neighborhoods she tends to find them in "have largely been either industrial or pretty generic residential neighborhoods."

When Shur spots one of these disguised cell phone towers, she notes the freeway exit, and returns to photograph it. Though many can be spotted easily, other pursuits lead to unfruitful quests. "The worst is when we've driven great lengths to see if one was fake only to find out it's a real tree," says Shur, admitting however, "I guess in reality it's much nicer to be surrounded by real trees." 

Below, photographs of Southern California's cell phone towers disguised as trees in a collection Shur named "Nature Calls":

All images courtesy Emily Shur

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of Los Angeles in 1962
    Transportation

    Mapping the Effects of the Great 1960s ‘Freeway Revolts’

    Urbanites who battled the construction of the Interstate Highway System in the 1960s saved some neighborhoods—but many highways did transform cities.

  2. A man and a woman shop at a modern kiosk by a beach in a vintage photo.
    Design

    Why Everyday Architecture Deserves Respect

    The places where we enact our daily lives are not grand design statements, yet they have an underrated charm and even nobility.

  3. a photo of a small fleet of electric Chevrolet Bolts cars.
    Transportation

    Should Electric Vehicle Drivers Pay Per Mile?

    Since EV drivers zip past gas taxes, they don’t contribute to the federal fund for road maintenance. A new working paper tries to determine whether plug-ins should pay up.

  4. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

  5.  New York City bus driver David Smith points out how to use the fare system to a passenger.
    Transportation

    There's a Bus Driver Shortage. And No Wonder.

    Why doesn't anyone want to drive the bus?

×