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Profane 'lane shift' sign removed from Center City intersection

While it can't claim responsibility, the Philadelphia Streets Department said it took the "lane shift" sign down after learning about it on social media earlier last week.

This edited photo, taken Nov. 17, shows the profane sign removed by the Streets Department last week.
This edited photo, taken Nov. 17, shows the profane sign removed by the Streets Department last week.Read moreJulie Shaw / Staff

The Philadelphia Streets Department has finally fixed an embarrassing mistake that had been a joke and blemish at a Center City intersection for months.

Last week, the agency removed a profane street sign had been gaining some notoriety on social media since at least September. A missing "f" turned what was meant to be a warning of an upcoming "Lane Shift" on 12th Street at Filbert into an expletive more suited to an adult conversation than a public space near the tourist-friendly Reading Terminal Market.

Officials for PennDOT and the Streets Department said neither agency was responsible for putting up the sign with the unfortunate typo, which some suggested, tongue in cheek, was a commentary on the state of Philly's roadways.

Keisha McCarty-Skelton, a spokeswoman for the Streets Department, said via email that the department had received no complaints until it learned about the sign through a social media post. The sign was taken down Tuesday.

"It was put up by either a contractor or someone being cheeky," McCarty-Skelton said, who noted that the department has the authority to remove the sign as "a municipal agency that governs the public right of way."

While it's not clear exactly how long the sign lived in the Center City spot or how it got there, it's been well-archived on social media. Older posts show a gap between the "I" and "T," while some newer photos show the full cuss word.

Bob Skiba, 56, of Bella Vista, said he hadn't seen the sign in person, but had to share a friend's photo on UrbanPHL, a private Facebook group for discussions on city planning.

"I thought this made a good commentary on what was going on in Philadelphia for this fight for space," he said.

Skiba said he was surprised to find others took to social media to comment on the sign long before he did. The sign is funny, nonetheless, he said.

"Well, the Philly attitude is that things are all [screwed] up but it's our city and we accept it the way it is," he said.