The Citgo sign: eyesore or icon?
The article “Fight’s a sign of the times” (Page A1, Feb. 28), reporting the continuing saga over the Citgo sign’s future, prompts a disgusted snort from this longtime planner and preservationist. Must we really commemorate the corporate visual rip-off of our society, a precedent for thousands of other examples of corporate branding that visually disrupt historic neighborhoods across America?
Has anyone asked the sign’s Kenmore Square neighbors whether they enjoy that monstrous billboard, displaying the art of sign technology, blinking through their blinds? Maybe if this were the last dinosaur, we could put it in a museum; there is a neon sign graveyard in Las Vegas.
Is our nostalgia for corporate branding so accommodating and uncritical? Must the Boston Landmarks Commission impose this on the future at a time of major new investment in this square? Must we put those development efforts into a visual straitjacket? Do we do this because America has been in a state of arrested development without the design guidelines that distinguish many European cites?
To the devotees of so-called commercial archeology, with their fashionable paeans to pop culture, I say: Get over it. The Citgo sign is not as amusing as neon hot dogs and ten-gallon hats. Maybe put it far out in Boston Harbor, as a redundant backup for a lighthouse, a kind of Statue of Liberty for the abuse of corporate free speech.
This is not the Eiffel Tower, folks; this is corporate arrogance. Why fetishize it? Restore the integrity of a neighborhood in a city that should distinguish between community character and corporate effrontery. Show a little confidence in our future rather than nostalgia for the blatant and crass commercialism from our past.
It could still be a beacon from a different perch
Re “Fight’s a sign of the times”: We move seemingly immovable structures — lighthouses, houses, statues, churches, bridges — all the time to new locations out of a sense of preservation. Why not do the same with the CITGO sign?
When I first arrived in the Boston area, in the mid-1970s, the CITGO sign was the beacon that beckoned my schoolmates and me to Kenmore Square and its nightlife attractions. When I became more acclimated to this area, I began to associate the CITGO sign with Fenway Park.
Why doesn’t the City of Boston, or better yet, the Red Sox, install the sign at or near the ballpark and spare us the chronic nonsensical drama about its removal from its current perch?