Protractors Mysteriously Placed Around City Neighborhoods

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Unless you’re an architect or an engineer, it’s probably been years since you last used a protractor in geometry class.

But, now the semi-circular tool is showing up in some odd places around town, from mailboxes to utility equipment.

Protractors have been pasted in public places from the North Side to the East End by way of Garfield where John Perry catches his bus by the mailbox.

“It might be a marker for certain cans they’re supposed to pick up and empty or the ones they’re going to remove and renew. I don’t know,” he guessed.

That just doesn’t add up.

It appears a private protractor placer throwing us a curve within a three-mile radius.

Each one is numbered.

Polish Hill proves to be a protractor placer’s paradise. Residents Jim Mueller and Ilona Auth have their own opinions.

“It could either be a renegade math freak or someone who just loves intrigue,” Mueller said.

“Maybe they’re trying to measure the angle of the hills,” Auth said.

It’s a matter of degree. Mark Knobil checks out number 142 next to Lili’s Coffee Shop.

“It’s clearly a protractor,” he said. “Three dimensional. It’s stuck on there really well. It’s not going anywhere. Maybe it’s just telling us we have no idea what the heck is going on.”

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  • JBizzle

    Oh No!!! Weapons of Math instruction!!

    • Dave

      hahaha, good one!

    • Puleeze

      JBizzle – Very funny!!

      Anonymous – Seriously?

    • Anonymous

      what does this have to do with math

  • Beatlejuice

    Everyone knows they are used for devil worship

  • Dave

    Would be nice if they listed all the locations and numbers where they were found. Perhaps some people who are good at math (heck, KDKA isn’t even good at reporting) could see if there’s some pattern.

  • dave
  • Dave Crawley

    “Weapons of Math Destruction”..that’s good. I don’t know where most of the protractors are, though we found one (there are apparently more) on the North Side…several on Penn Ave. in Garfield and Polish Hill…as well as the pedestrian walkway toward Bigelow Blvd. on the Bloomfield Bridge. Anyone see any others? More to the point, anyone know what’s up with this?

  • Anonymous

    yes i agree. who else agrees

  • Anonymous

    Aliens and they are among us! I for one welcome our new alien overlords!

  • Dave Crawley

    The Aliens may be with us for a protracted period of time…

  • Wallace Freeman

    Plot them on a map then draw an azmith in the direction (magnetic/grid) indicated on each protractor. Where lines intersect one may have a target. Watch our for folks with mortars in the back of their trucks.

  • Anonymous

    Ahhh How I pine for the days when reporters actually knew how to do their jobs and would have been embarrassed to turn in a report like this filled with nothing more than the idle speculation of the man in the street. How about chasing down the actual facts? Maybe call some of the companies who property they are attached to? Call the city government see if they had anything to do with it, look for manufacturer’s markings on the protractors themselves?

    Or would that have just been too much work?

    • Jenn-wynn

      Not to say I don’t love good journalism as much as the next guy, but were you aware that the entire news industry is nearly dead? Newsrooms are vacant with single journos covering multiple desks. No one has time for good reporting anymore.

  • Judy

    I’m wondering if they are part of a puzzle cache. Any cachers in PA care to weigh in?

    • Phat Benny-B

      that was my guess

  • jaiotu

    Locate each protractor.
    Note the number on each protractor
    Plot a line from the location through the compass direction indicated by that number.
    Find the point where those numbers intersect.
    Dig until you find the buried treasure.

    • Random


    • James

      Or connect the dots using googlemaps to form a unique shape design! I love weird art!

  • Broke_Daddy

    Does this story seem slanted or is it just me?

  • Old Man Sedgwick

    Oh, come on now. Fifty bucks says this is just another stupid piece of so-called ‘performance art’. Won’t stop people from losing sleep over it, though.

    (Ten points for the ‘Weapons of Math Instruction’.)

  • Anonymous

    not folowing:

    Note the number on each protractor
    Plot a line from the location through the compass direction indicated by that number.Find the point where those numbers intersect.

    im plotting a line from where i am to a direction, where is the intersection?

    • Steve

      There are multiple initial points. Lines from any two initial points, unless they are parallel, will intersect. If lines from a larger number of the protractors intersect at one place, investigators might want to take a good look at that place. It is likely to be a business that wants to attract attention.

  • Burghnerdman

    This is another sign that society as we knew it is breaking down. These people have nothing better too do with their time and energy. Maybe spend some time helping the ederly or something. Not vandilizing public property.

  • sputbob

    Notice the orientation, they are all the same. They are sad smiles, not happy smiles.

  • Reporter

    I spent the weekend following the direction of the protractors. They intersect at the Civic Arena and a photo of Marty Griffin with his thumb up his a##

  • Clicks for July 11, 2011 | Welcome to Link Chick's Clicks

    […] It’s Art That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. Unless or until there’s a follow-up story with an answer to the mystery. Protractors Mysteriously Placed Around City Neighborhoods […]

  • Protractors Mysteriously Placed Around City Neighborhoods « Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

    […] via Protractors Mysteriously Placed Around City Neighborhoods « CBS Pittsburgh. […]

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