I received this email the other day, one of those somewhat worthless humor forwards. Normally I ignore it or laugh. This one seemed fishy to me, though.
I smelled a photoshop job. Looking at the image up close showed a lot of blur and an undue amount of compression artifacts around the lower right pillar. I was determined to find out where the picture was from and prove that it was doctored.
I started my search with the blue sign. I didn't believe that it was an American street sign. Convinced that I had seen something like that in pictures from England I searched for "blue sign London." Soon I had found an image hailing from Manchester with a very similar sign, so much so that I initially thought I'd found the same sign. It was not the same, but I kept looking.
Image search eventually failed me, so I turned to Google Maps Street View. I wasn't able to find much using that but I was bored and it was sort of neat to virtually tour Manchester. After a bit of traveling down Quay St. I stumbled upon the corner of Quay and Gartside. Long after I'd given up, I was able to find what I was looking for.
View Larger Map
Unfortunately, I was unable to prove it false. I don't know exactly how the van was extracted, but it appears that the pillars are there and in the same configuration as in the forwarded picture. Even with the failure, it was kind of fun to research and rewarding to know that you can still find pretty much anything on the Internet.