Symbols and Synchronicity

I mentioned how I like it when synchronicities pop up at different times in an earlier post last week, but I have to mention another odd coincidence because 1) it’s cool and 2) I need your help to find out what this symbol is.

I’d already been thinking about starting a small project to take photos of signs and symbols seen around San Francisco.  Yesterday, I took two photos of this symbol on the back of our building.  I’d seen it many times before as things like this always catch my eye.



Then as we walked down Harrison to Whole Foods, I took another photo of the great Qube autobody shop from across the street instead of under it as I did in this photo from last Wednesday.  When I got home and uploaded the photos to my laptop and saw the shot at full screen, there was the symbol again on the door under the number 765.


Today, I got up and checked a few of my blog readers, made a post about gVisit, the visitor mapping site using Google maps, went to Technorati to search for “gVisit” see if my tagging worked out, and there, just a few entries down in the search results was a variation of the symbol – this time as Dan Cameron’s icon.  It has a green square, slightly different shades, and isn’t turned on a point, but it’s pretty close.


Compelled to find out what this symbol is, I googled for all sorts of words and phrases but couldn’t quite find the words to describe it:

symbols seen on buildings = rather general but surprisingly, this yields all sorts of returns having to do with the occult – freaky.

graphical symbols seen on buildings = thought I might have found it with electrical and electronic symbols but those were all line symbols in black and white; health and safety symbols.. nope

graphic signage on buildings = all university signage programs

graphic mechanical symbols = logs of CAD symbols for architecture

graphic safety symbols = warmer?  Lots of safety symbols.

It’s interesting with all the power of Google, it’s still of course a language-based search, making it difficult to search for a visual topic.  I wish Google had the “find topic by uploading an image” feature that some font services have.  Anyway, I tend to think it’s an electrical symbol of some kind, but I’m not sure.  I’ll have to ask the building owner if I see him this week.  Or, maybe you know?

Great answers archived here:

  1. This is very intriguing.  I’ve blogged your picture from flickr, in the hope that someone can give us an answer.
    Posted by Garry on  08/23  at  05:26 AM
  2. photo triggered my emmory of one I took in the East Bay.
    Posted by luminant studio on  08/23  at  06:37 AM
  3. my pre-coffee typographical slip reveals what city the building is in, but other than that I don’t know what kind of building it is, or what goes on inside.
    Posted by luminant studio on  08/23  at  07:05 AM
  4. that’s a hazmat logo – the colors stand for biological, chemical, radioactive, and lethal contaminents.
    Posted by Bill Tallmadge  on  08/23  at  11:42 AM
  5. I googled “hazmat logo”: here’s a fine example -’ve learned something today smile
    Posted by Garry on  08/23  at  12:32 PM
  6. Wow, thanks, all!  That solves the mystery for me.  Now I need to find out why that’s on the back of our building. Seeing the hazmat logo on the autobody shop door seems normal enough, but our building is totally residential.  I suppose there are biological, chemical, radioactive, and lethal contaminents all around us that we know so little about.
    Posted by emily chang on  08/23  at  03:52 PM
  7. Emily,As I recall:

    They put numbers into the boxes if there is a specific threat.  A 4 in any of the boxes would be a large danger, 1 a danger, no number means little or no danger.

    The white box is for specific dangers and is seldom used.

    Perhaps your city code requires each large or multi-use builing to have the boxes?

    It would be handy for emergency crews to be able to review before entry.


    Posted by Allan Wallace on  08/24  at  12:05 PM
  8. I think this site should clear every thing up for you.

    Being a Hazmat Tech and having my CDL’s I am all too formiliar with this placard..
    But did you know that one of the most dangerous trucks diving your city streets has Wal-Mart on the side of it. Just think of all the things that you can buy at this store, and then stop and think “How it got there?”

    Posted by David Mahaffey  on  11/02  at  11:13 PM
  9. NFPA 704 DiamondFlamability – Red
    Reactivity – Yellow
    Health – Blue
    Special Consideration – White

    Posted by Kent  on  05/01  at  01:54 PM