The Biggest Mystery Of All

By london_alice Last edited 131 months ago
The Biggest Mystery Of All


There are a lot of unsolved mysteries in London. Who was Jack the Ripper? Why can't they figure out a way to keep the tube cool in the summer? Why is London so depressingly expensive? Does anyone really like the 2012 Olympic logo?

And the biggest mystery of them all: who threw a pair of trainers over a telephone wire in Gander Green Lane, Sutton?

This Is Local London is on a mission to solve the mystery. If you've been wildly flinging your shoes in the air in the area, and lost track of them, you should probably get in touch. They've come up with lots of theories, from gang warfare to end of school hijinks. If you're the shoe flinger, they'll be really happy to hear from you.

Image taken from donnamatrix's Flickr photo stream

Last Updated 19 June 2007


I know in Chicago it is a kind of memorial. When someone permanently moves out of an area that they have lived in for a long time, they'll toss up a pair as a memorial to themselves. Or, when someone dies, friends or family members will take a pair of shoes, no matter the kind, and toss them onto telephone wires, powerlines, or anywhere else. Might be tradition in other places in the US, but I only know my hometown for sure.


perhaps someone was recreating the scene from Big Fish???

Actually, thinking about it, there was a tree near a University (I forget which) that has shoes dangling off it - maybe someone finished Uni and decided to celebrate...


It's an american thing signifying a particular gangs area or the presence of a crack house.


I used to see it loads when I lived in the US, not sure about whether it was around crack houses or gang areas though - I lived in a pretty tame hippy town.

titus chalk

It's a skate thing. When you're shoes where out, and you get new ones, you can chuck your current pair. There's trees full of them near certain skate spots.


As other commenters have noted, this sort of thing is quite common in the States. In more urban areas supposedly it's meant to identify a house (or street) where drug dealing goes on, but this knowledge seems so widespread now that I doubt it's used very seriously anymore.

The main reason for shoes over telephone wires that I've heard is to show a loss of virginity. The trees outside the north dorms on the University of Washington campus have more shoes than leaves - several hundred at the very least - and all are there because of residents who got it on during their freshman year. When I was in Florida recently the University of Miami had a similar thing going, although the school tried to remove the shoes fairly frequently, and it wasn't a well known phenomenon.

Of course, maybe someone was just drunk and tossed their shoes in the air. I've certainly done stupider things.


In Australia its meant to mean there's a brothel in the area, but I've never been able to confirm this!


I've lived in the States all my life and honestly, I never knew what it meant. I figured the meaning was no more profound than: somewhere, an idiot was hobbling around with bare feet...

And that still may be the ultimate answer. We can dare to dream.