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News Events Referrals Deals Classifieds Comments About

Sneakers in the Air
updated: Feb 18, 2013, 5:32 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

There are various urban myths about sneakers hanging from utility wires. That it's not just fun but there's symbolism behind this! Edhat readers have any stories about this?

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These doll heads were strung over some phone wires outside my house near Alice Keck.

This photo was taken on the 200 block of west Ortega street. If we believe some comments, this is the central location of all drug and gang activity in Santa Barbara.

New Zealand has a different take on the shoe-hanging custom…

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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 375724 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:05 PM

Passing of Life

 

 COMMENT 375725 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:05 PM

Sneakers hanging from utility wires are/were often placed there to indicate to those "in the know" where the drug house is.

 

 COMMENT 375732 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:16 PM

I strongly suggest anyone who believes that there's any truth to any stories regarding shoes over wires read the Snopes article on the topic.

 

 COMMENT 375737 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:23 PM

When I lived in Oakland, it was a way to tell who`s neighborhood one was entering....There was no "myth" about it...you better know where you were walking.

 

 COMMENT 375745 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:35 PM

It's either "look what I can do!" or "those mean kids stole my sneakers and threw them on the wire!"...or, both!

 

 COMMENT 375746P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:35 PM

Ask any teenager or gang banger. They indicate gang territory. They should be removed by the utility asap, just like graffiti. It's not funny

 

 COMMENT 375747 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:35 PM

dope house... depends where you grew up and live..

 

 COMMENT 375749 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:36 PM

I doubt that many gangbangers are aware that what they are actually doing is erroneously regarded as urban myth. Sneakers strung over utility lines are a local gang's territory marking. Ask any cop or gangsta. Dope-house location has nothing to do with it.

Living adjacent to Felony Flats (AKA: the Westside), we see these "decorations" from time to time. I find them extremely offensive. The city can't/won't do anything about removing the sneakers, but I've found that a call to the Edison Co. usually brings quick results within a day or so.

 

 COMMENT 375750 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:37 PM

Dope house is what I always heard

 

 COMMENT 375752P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:42 PM

I grew up in Phoenix in the '70's and we threw our sneakers over the wires. It was just plain juvenile fun. Some things don't change.

 

 COMMENT 375756 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:56 PM

It means that kids in those neighborhoods can fly man!!

 

 COMMENT 375758P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 01:04 PM

But these sneakers on a wire are all over the world - I've seen them overseas in very remote areas.

 

 COMMENT 375759 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 01:06 PM

Free shoes to those that can get them!

 

 COMMENT 375763 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 01:11 PM

Let's just say that there are many reasons for this - I don't think it means just one thing - It depends when and where you grew up - Maybe people were inspired by "Like Mike" -

 

 COMMENT 375764 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 01:13 PM

732, do you mean the one titled " The Secret Language of Sneakers"? Or is there another one or more? Because it doesn't pretend to offer a definitive answer and if you doubt any of what's been offered so far, I suggest you open your mind to those with experience and stop relying on internet "truths".

 

 COMMENT 375768 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 01:32 PM

Kids have been throwing their shoes/sneakers on power lines for as long as there have been power lines. Nothing here to see. Please move on.

 

 COMMENT 375776 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 01:40 PM

It means that in that neighborhood there are children with bare feet.

 

 COMMENT 375782 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 01:49 PM

If you think these mark "dope houses", gang territory, or any other such insulated suburban myths, you're showing off your ignorance.

Pretty sure if there were even an ounce of truth, getting a warrant with that as probable cause would take about 2 seconds. Do you really think cops would not just bust the houses? And then dealers would stop doing it.

Gangs mark territory with graffiti. No one marks the outside of a house where you can buy drugs, and most dealers don't sell to strangers (fearing that they're cops/rivals/going to rob them).

Stop being afraid of everything around you.

 

 COMMENT 375788 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 01:55 PM

First time I saw this was 30 years ago near the Port of LA and it signified someone had found a berth and going off to work as an able bodied seaman leaving their sorry used land shoes behind for new deck shoes.

 

 COMMENT 375804P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 02:34 PM

@782: They are indeed a marker of specific gang territory. Anyone with any street experience knows this.

 

 COMMENT 375841 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 03:54 PM

732 snopes says it's unvarifiable.

 

 COMMENT 375853 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 04:42 PM

The people who insist that it's not a myth have simply fallen for the myth. Their claims that police know this or gangs know this, etc. do not come from actual knowledge or experience, merely from having heard the myth from others. No matter how fervently someone states it, no matter who they claim knows it, it remains a make-believe story.

 

 COMMENT 375861 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 05:02 PM

I'm sure there's no way a judge would issue the police a search warrant based on a pair of sneakers on a wire. That being said, it's my opinion that the Drug House theory is a myth. Ditto the Gang Territory theory. How would they indicate WHICH gang it was? Brand of sneakers? Color?

 

 COMMENT 375866P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 05:24 PM

Dolls - a original, cute variation of a theme. (I guess.)

 

 COMMENT 375867 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 05:27 PM

866P -- What do you mean by dolls? I had a pair of doll's heads on a wire outside my house a few months back...

 

 COMMENT 375872 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 05:39 PM

I love how those who have direct experience are being told by those with opinions that they are wrong. Hilarious!

 

 COMMENT 375873 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 05:41 PM

Gang turf in this area. I witnessed some unbelievable gang activity on San Andreas yesterday in broad daylight. 15-20 kids maybe 14 to 18 years of age chasing each other, throwing chunks of steel at cars, and screaming at each other in Spanish. It looked like the scenes you see on the news of the middle east riots. It maybe lasted 3 minutes and was very surreal. I was shocked this was happening at 11am in front of everyone to see. I thought a gun or knife might get pulled out. These guys were pissed at each other.

 

 COMMENT 375874 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 05:51 PM

@782 um even though sneakers are above a certain house/apartment DOES NOT mean that, that is THE dope house but that dope is close.. i have lived in areas that it means just that.. dope is close.. or if in L.A. it IS the way gang bangers mark their territory.. and by the way the only one ignorant is you...

 

 COMMENT 375875P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 05:52 PM

Look, SB. If you want to take back your city, take down all sneakers from wires. Cover all graffiti. Who cares if it's an urban myth or not. If you are going to laugh this off and do your uber-liberal spin on the sneakers on the wire issue, then kiss your city good bye. And i consider myself a liberal with kids owning and living in SB. And who have made an enormous investment to live there. State St. at night is like Beirut. Las Positas and other exits c/beggars is like.... well, it's not Mayberry.

 

 COMMENT 375880 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 06:32 PM

@725: You've certainly got THAT right! When the gangstas themselves acknowledge the sneakers as territorial markers and the cops say the same thing, who am I supposed to believe? The territory marker thing is definitely not a myth. I live in Felony Flats Adjacent. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about.

 

 COMMENT 375881 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 06:34 PM

Sorry--I mean @872.

 

 COMMENT 375882 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 06:42 PM

Rex, sorry but I must disagree. I'm the one that lived in Phoenix in the 70's when anybody threw shoes on the lines. And I'm the one that posted the photo of the shoes on west Ortega street, 100 yards from my previous home. And I'm the one that currently lives in the lower west side, where there are drugs, gangs and arson fires. But you know what I don't see on my street? Guess what?

 

 COMMENT 375883 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 06:42 PM

To Snopers - Snopes is simply a husband/wife team trying to verify what may or may not be true as urban myth.

Not infallible. Oh, and don't believe everything you read on the internet.

 

 COMMENT 375885 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 06:55 PM

DAN: From what I'm reading on this thread I'm starting to think that maybe the sneakers have different meanings in different communities or even neighborhoods. I'm speaking directly from my own observations and experiences on the Westside, where they most definitely are territorial markers. But I've heard too many people such as yourself from other places assign other meanings to them as well, so who knows? Regardless, the shoes really do have a meaning to most of the people who toss them over utility wires. I have no idea why some neighborhoods have them and others don't.

 

 COMMENT 375886 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 07:04 PM

It simply means stupid people live there.

 

 COMMENT 375888 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 07:07 PM

@886: Yes, there's that...

 

 YIN YANG agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 07:16 PM

"State St. at night is like Beirut."

Ooookay.....

Thanks all, for the education. Glad I've never seen multiple shoes.

 

 COMMENT 375891 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 07:20 PM

Wow. Some really uninformed people on this thread.

First, the shoes could mean virtually in today's world...But they started as a bullying ploy. People's shoes were stolen, then flung up on telephone wires so they were inaccessible.

Gangs don't use this as a sign of ANY thing. Gangs don't fling shoes up onto wires as a sign of anything, people fling them up there. And for myriad reasons. But most are urban legends. I thought some of y'all were smarter than this, but I see you're getting your info from wikipedia or google on this. Shame.

 

 COMMENT 375892P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 07:27 PM

I guess the real question for me isn't why but how ... do you throw them overhand or underhand? And what do you grip - the shoe or the shoestrings?

 

 COMMENT 375907P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 08:05 PM

Edhat has previously covered this topic very well & more than once, beginning in 2006. Put "shoefiti" in the search box, or here are a couple of links:
http://www.edhat.com/site/tidbit.cfm?id=1488
http://www.edhat.com/site/tidbit.cfm?nid=26807&showcomments=T

 

 COMMENT 375911 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 08:15 PM

Let's agree that they don't mean a damn thing... because that's likely the truth!

 

 COMMENT 375925 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 08:34 PM

They meaning is in the mind of the thrower.

 

 COMMENT 375937 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 09:00 PM

Who can say anything for sure? I do know however, that in my area, there are two places where shoes hang, and whether or not by coincidence, drugs are sold right next to them...

 

 COMMENT 375964P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 12:21 AM

What do doll heads, then, mean when they're hanging from the utility wires? Anything different - from doll heads to toes ex a sneaker?

 

 COMMENT 375975 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 06:10 AM

961P cops don't need probable cause to knock on doors.

 

 COMMENT 375986 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 07:25 AM

How do you know what gang territory you are entering? All sneakers look alike from 30 feet away. Special knots in the lacing? The direction they point?

 

 COMMENT 375999 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 07:48 AM

@375725

Just because someone claims to have experience doesn't mean they do. The fact is that no one has any direct experience of hanging shoes with drugs or gangs ... it's a myth.

 

 COMMENT 376008 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 08:07 AM

Well a compilation of all the opinions given here concerning "sneakers" or tennis shoes thrown over utility lines in neighborhoods, leads to only one possible conclusion. They are used by gangs to mark territory and the gang members doing it are all dopes!

 

 COMMENT 376012P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 08:12 AM

Why do people do it? Because they can. Or at least those who do, can.

 

 COMMENT 376016 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 08:18 AM

people might just look up the real meaning of "myth" in the first place --

 

 COMMENT 376040 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 08:55 AM

What it really means...
It means your a low life idot for doing that
Or...
There is an idot who lives in this area, see if you can pick my out. I have no respect for myself or my envorment, that will be your first clue.
Second clue, my mother and father never taught me right from wrong and I'm to dumb to figure it out on my own.

 

 GRANNYFRANNY agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 09:00 AM

In IV, back in the bad old 70s and 80s, it meant "school's out" and there were a lot of hanging Converses in June.

 

 COMMENT 376068 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 09:40 AM

After reading all 53 comments, drugs, gangs and disrespect of property. No matter what they mean they should be taken down. You can't hang a sign without permission from the City. Why is the City leaving these up. I'm sure tourist have the same info about shoes hanging up there as most of us do. Take them down they are tacky and "suggest" nothing good.

 

 COMMENT 376094P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 10:12 AM

If the tennis shoes or sneakers are thrown up just as fun, then they're ok to see occasionally as serendipity.
(Long ago there was a window of opportunity to place utilities underground, especially in historic downtown areas; sorry it was never done.) If there's a hidden motive there, that's something else.
Who is responsible for the expense of removing them? Seems as if it's a utility matter, not a city one.

 

 COMMENT 376142 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 11:38 AM

I for one am quite tired of this conversation.

 

 COMMENT 376236P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 02:25 PM

Thanks for posting your pictures of sneakers/tennis shoes from other places. I've seen them hanging from utility wires in remote South Pacific islands.

 

 COMMENT 376325 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 05:36 PM

For a drug- and gang-free example of hanging shoes, see the film "Big Fish."

 

 COMMENT 376365 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-19 07:27 PM

I think the only person who knows why any sneakers are on the wire, is the person who took the time to put them there...

 

24% of comments on this page were made by Edhat Community Members.

 

*** 2 comments were deleted from this thread by the Edhat Board Nanny for violating Edhat Comments Board policy. Click Here to see them.

 

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