Look at This F$#%in Street! Popular Instagram Account Showcases NOLA’s Notorious Potholes

Photo Source: LATFS Instagram

Taking New Orleans by a storm, @lookatthisfuckinstreet is one of the city’s most popular pothole accounts, “documenting the cracked and sinking streets of the Crescent City.” 

With almost 29,000 followers, widely worn Pothole Watchdog t-shirts, and over 714 hilarious posts, the account has blown up to be bigger than the impressive potholes it documents. 

Below is an interview Big Easy Magazine conducted with the anonymous owner of the account. They joked, “I try to stay anonymous because I don’t want SWBNO raising my rates!” 

Q: Why did you start lookatthisfuckinstreet? 

A: I used to drive around a lot for work. Nearly every day, I’d turn a corner to find the street completely gone, or almost fall into some monstrous hole, or see that a huge gravel pit I’d noticed six years ago was still there. I literally caught myself saying, “look at this fuckin street!” all the time, out of pure exasperation. 

For a few years, I joked about this being a good Instagram handle, and then made the account in a bout of boredom in late 2019, using some pictures I’d taken myself. Soon, people started sending their own in. 

Given that there are plenty of New Orleans pothole accounts, I didn’t expect it to be much more than a laugh for some friends, but I do think there’s something in the desperation and humor of the name that draws people in. It’s so outlandish, but so are the streets. 

Q: Have you been surprised by how much the account’s following has grown? 

A: Definitely. Pretty early on, I had a suspicion it might have legs when the City of NOLA’s official account started following me; then I hit 1,000 followers and thought “this is crazy!” Now there are something like 28,000 followers and I get around 40 DMs a day with submissions. 

One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed is how many people from out of state follow the account — I’ve gotten submissions from people’s visits years ago — turns out we’re famous for more than just Jazz and Beignets. 

Q: Do the streets you report on ever get fixed after you draw attention to them? 

A: One of the most interesting parts of this whole thing is that I do receive messages from individuals at DPW, SWBNO, and 311 and I’m aware that they periodically share images from the LATFS page in their internal communications, including to dispatch contractors who have left job sites in poor condition. I’ve also learned a ton from them about what is going on in each image. For example, if you see a hydrant gushing water, it’s probably being flushed, part of routine maintenance. 

And while I can’t actually say that the page is the cause of most fixes, there have also been many instances of incredible timing — holes that have been there for months or years get repaired a day or two after a post goes up, a contractor returns after dark to secure and organize the job site, that type of thing. Several utilities have also left statements in the comments section in relation to specific job sites or road damage, explaining the situation or confirming that repairs are underway.

I think Instagram is a great platform for this because I believe that everyone wants these things fixed, but the internal 311 of potholes/sinkholes/leaks, etc don’t visually convey the urgency of some of these situations as well as the Instagram posts do. You can open 200 tickets for a “depression in the public right of way” through 311 with no action or urgency, but when they see that it’s actually a tremendous public safety issue, maybe they’re more prone to act. That’s my read, anyway. 

Q: What are some of your favorite posts on the account?

A: I’d like to say two things first — I try not to post active road work unless it’s in really bad condition, or has been there for a very long time. We’re calling for them to fix the streets, so it would be unfair of us to then document that as an issue in and of itself. 

Second, a disclaimer: I don’t condone climbing into potholes, it can be dangerous.  

That said, some of my favorites have included people standing waist-deep in the middle of the street as if their lower half has completely disappeared. They’ve also included potholes with crystal clear water that look like the cenotes in the Yucatan, or ones that have wildlife drinking from them (a common refrain on the page is that nature is healing).

 I also love the cones that have been named and adopted and sung happy birthday to for years by entire blocks, or the potholes that have been decorated by artists (@pottspurls) or filled with whatever is on hand (coolers, lamps, couches, sticks, shells, beads, tires, plants, etc) by fed-up citizens. 

Then there’s the leaks — the gurgling mountain brooks that look like they could be teeming with trout. They’re all funny, and they’re all not. 

Photo Source: LATFS Instagram
Image Source: LATFS Instagram
Image Source: LATFS Instagram
Image Source: LATFS Instagram

Q: What impact have you seen from the account? 

A: I think there’s both some accountability happening here that doesn’t happen through the regular channels and some instant gratification for the submitter from the community. 

If you report a pothole to 311, it goes into a black box. They have no requirement to address it. They have no requirement to fix it. You are given no timeline for when it will be addressed or fixed (and it often won’t be). You don’t even get the satisfaction of someone saying, “I hear you. I’m aware of your problem and we’ll take care of it.” 

When people send an image to LATFS, they are often addressing something that has been bothering them for YEARS. Some of these people have tried to fix these in every way they know-how. Some of these people literally can’t drive down their own streets. At the very least, when it gets posted on LATFS you are commiserating with and laughing with other people who care about the same problems (many of whom are hilarious in the comments section), and at the best, your street might get that little bump it needs (no pun intended) to get on someone’s radar and get fixed.

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *