Citgo Sign a Landmark

Should the Citgo Sign be a landmark?

  • Yes

    Votes: 79 68.1%
  • No

    Votes: 27 23.3%
  • Only if it remains a PokeStop

    Votes: 10 8.6%

  • Total voters
    116
  • Poll closed .

AMcGhie

Set Adrift on Memory Bliss
SoSH Member
Apr 11, 2006
3,379
Portland, OR
It is absolutely a landmark in that when I lived in the BU area, it was how I figured out which direction to drunkenly stumble home. In terms of being an actual "historical" landmark, it isn't and shouldn't be.
 

dynomite

Member
SoSH Member
It is absolutely a landmark in that when I lived in the BU area, it was how I figured out which direction to drunkenly stumble home. In terms of being an actual "historical" landmark, it isn't and shouldn't be.
Sure it is, inasmuch as many existing officially designated Boston Landmarks -- like the Filene's Complex and Jacob Wirth's Restaurant -- eventually transitioned from commercial spaces to community icons.

The closest analogy I can think of is the Pepsi-Cola sign on the Queens waterfront. The New York Landmarks Preservation Commission had this same debate for about 30 years, and decided earlier this year to grant it landmark status: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/04/13/nyregion/pepsi-cola-sign-in-queens-gains-landmark-status.html

Same logic and purpose applies here, and I expect it will eventually result in landmark status for the Citgo sign as well.
 

Ale Xander

Lacks black ink
SoSH Member
Oct 31, 2013
32,044
More of a landmark than Brook Farm and some of those Beacon Hill houses with that status
 

Papelbon's Poutine

Homeland Security
SoSH Member
Dec 4, 2005
19,506
Portsmouth, NH
Sure it is, inasmuch as many existing officially designated Boston Landmarks -- like the Filene's Complex and Jacob Wirth's Restaurant -- eventually transitioned from commercial spaces to community icons.

The closest analogy I can think of is the Pepsi-Cola sign on the Queens waterfront. The New York Landmarks Preservation Commission had this same debate for about 30 years, and decided earlier this year to grant it landmark status: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/04/13/nyregion/pepsi-cola-sign-in-queens-gains-landmark-status.html

Same logic and purpose applies here, and I expect it will eventually result in landmark status for the Citgo sign as well.
First thing I thought of was the Domino Sugar sign in Baltimore as well, though I don't think it has the legal distinction of a landmark.
 

dynomite

Member
SoSH Member
First thing I thought of was the Domino Sugar sign in Baltimore as well, though I don't think it has the legal distinction of a landmark.
Absolutely, and you're right: that one is still on the site of a functioning Domino refinery, so the company controls it and there's no danger of demolition so no need to pursue landmark recognition.

To get further afield, did you know Boston used to have its own Domino Sugars sign, when there was a refinery near Fort Point in Southie (I believe, but old timers feel free to correct me!). Here's a photo someone posted to Flickr:




static.flickr.com/139/321584140_4ad15c7937.jpg
 

Fred not Lynn

Dick Button Jr.
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2005
4,756
Alberta
Hugo Chavez and Joe Kennedy will be very happy.
I think the status of the sign is a little clouded by the whole Hugo Chavez/Venezuelan State Oil thing. Maybe the sign stays, and with great fanfare the "Citgo" ad is removed, and replaced by something less communist...at great profit to the owner and as valuable advertising for the new sponsor.
 

simplicio

lurker
Apr 11, 2012
1,384
I think the status of the sign is a little clouded by the whole Hugo Chavez/Venezuelan State Oil thing. Maybe the sign stays, and with great fanfare the "Citgo" ad is removed, and replaced by something less communist...at great profit to the owner and as valuable advertising for the new sponsor.
Yeah, I don't really get the desire to give landmark status to a piece of advertising (I also don't get giving naming rights of stadiums to corporations when taxpayers are footing most of the bill, but maybe that's just me). Perhaps the city would be interested in purchasing the sign and commissioning work from local designers to replace it?
 

HriniakPosterChild

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 6, 2006
13,705
500 feet above Lake Sammammish
(I also don't get giving naming rights of stadiums to corporations when taxpayers are footing most of the bill, but maybe that's just me).
The rights aren't given, they are sold by the team for big bucks. Then those big bucks get put into the budget to represent the team's contribution to the cost of the project. This is called a "public / private partnership." (Blechhhh.)
 

dynomite

Member
SoSH Member
I think the status of the sign is a little clouded by the whole Hugo Chavez/Venezuelan State Oil thing. Maybe the sign stays, and with great fanfare the "Citgo" ad is removed, and replaced by something less communist...at great profit to the owner and as valuable advertising for the new sponsor.
I wouldn't mind replacing the "Citgo" with "Boston" -- I think that looks pretty good:



Unfortunately that would be an expensive change, and I'm not sure that anyone would foot the bill for it.
 

JimD

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 29, 2001
7,486
Everyone will be wishing the sign had landmark status when the days comes that B.U. wants to tear that building down and put up a tower.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
7,624
Everyone will be wishing the sign had landmark status when the days comes that B.U. wants to tear that building down and put up a tower.
BU will build luxury apartments there. That way they can capture more of that "rich foreign students who want to live off campus and barely attend BU" money.
 

NortheasternPJ

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 16, 2004
14,717
BU will build luxury apartments there. That way they can capture more of that "rich foreign students who want to live off campus and barely attend BU" money.
This actually came back up again, not because BU is looking to build anything, BU is looking at selling 9 buildings in Kenmore Square, including the bookstore. So the new owner is likely going to want to tear the building down, build something higher, build new buildings around it that blocks it's view etc.
 

dynomite

Member
SoSH Member
Yeah, I don't really get the desire to give landmark status to a piece of advertising (I also don't get giving naming rights of stadiums to corporations when taxpayers are footing most of the bill, but maybe that's just me). Perhaps the city would be interested in purchasing the sign and commissioning work from local designers to replace it?
Yeah, it's weird, but Americans love signs.

Queens has the Pepsi-Cola sign, Baltimore has the Domino Sugars sign, Vegas has the welcome sign and the "Vegas Vic" cowboy, LA has Randy's donuts and the Hollywood sign, Chicago has their theater sign, Seattle has the Public Market sign, etc. Plenty of other examples.

Some of them may have started out as "advertising" but for one reason or another -- perhaps as part of our increasingly photograph saturated and nostalgic culture -- all have become icons and city symbols.
 

Savin Hillbilly

loves the secret sauce
SoSH Member
Jul 10, 2007
18,784
The wrong side of the bridge....
Yeah, it's weird, but Americans love signs.

Queens has the Pepsi-Cola sign, Baltimore has the Domino Sugars sign, Vegas has the welcome sign and the "Vegas Vic" cowboy, LA has Randy's donuts and the Hollywood sign, Chicago has their theater sign, Seattle has the Public Market sign, etc. Plenty of other examples.
One of my favorites is the Grain Belt Beer sign on the river in Minneapolis:

 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
7,624
Yeah, it's weird, but Americans love signs.

Queens has the Pepsi-Cola sign, Baltimore has the Domino Sugars sign, Vegas has the welcome sign and the "Vegas Vic" cowboy, LA has Randy's donuts and the Hollywood sign, Chicago has their theater sign, Seattle has the Public Market sign, etc. Plenty of other examples.

Some of them may have started out as "advertising" but for one reason or another -- perhaps as part of our increasingly photograph saturated and nostalgic culture -- all have become icons and city symbols.
Time to quote Chinatown:
"Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough."

I guess signs go in that category as well.
 

dynomite

Member
SoSH Member
One of my favorites is the Grain Belt Beer sign on the river in Minneapolis:

That's a great one.

I also really like the old White Stag/Made in Oregon sign in Portland, which they light up with a red Rudolph nose in December.



Edit: that one is actually an interesting parallel to the Citgo sign, because they did change it to read "Portland Oregon" after the city purchased it (for $2,000/month) and some business owner donated $200K to change the lettering. As I said above, I wouldn't mind changing it to read "BOSTON" if they can find some donor.

In fact, what about GE, who just moved their headquarters to Boston and is one of the largest LED/lighting manufacturers in the world? Change the lettering and slap a small GE logo in the bottom right?
 
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Fred not Lynn

Dick Button Jr.
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2005
4,756
Alberta
From a business perspective it's a bit unfair that the Red Sox, who are more or less 90% responsible for the advertising value of that sign get zero revenue from it (as far as I know, someone please enlighten me if I am incorrect)...ambush marketing at its best. If only they had some way to block it, or at least threaten to so they could get their due, the way the Cubs did with the rooftop site by Wrigley Field.

This item is exacerbated by the fact that it is literally an advertisement for an enemy of America.
 
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yep

Member
SoSH Member
Feb 3, 2006
2,465
Red Sox Natin
Also I have always thought the Citgo sign was somewhere on the spectrum between "who cares" and "ugly piece of shit".

I get the fact that people associate it with Boston, but I never understood the "beloved landmark" thing. It's not an especially pretty nor artistic piece of advertizing, and it's not even a local company. And it's a friggin oil company. Owned by communists, or something.

I mean, replace it with a Gillette sign, or GE, or something. Or don't. Who cares. Has any living person, anywhere, ever in their life gone out of their way to buy Citgo gas because of that sign? Why is it even there?

If they could justify tearing down the Rathskeller to replace it with Eastern Standard, then I am certain some better use can be made of that stretch of city skyline than the Citgo sign.
 

aminahyaquin

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 21, 2005
238
West Virginia
This is a question that seems to me to have real merit. Is a skyline sign a part of history? As a 64 year old who was one of the generations of children who excitedly watched for it and other iconic symbols like the nun-painted tanks to appear when approaching the city of Boston, I say yes. It seems to me that the CITGO sign for its reminiscence of old technology alone, has historical and visual value to a City that is its fourth century, and needs to preserve icons of its past.

The CITGO sign represents to me the power of the industry and the gritty, ass-busting, blue collar workers who built it. There was a time when the skyline signs meant a great deal to the people in the ballparks, back when blue collar workers could afford to take their kids there. It said that they too were part of the Fenway panorama, and that the industry to which they committed their lives so they could raise their families was as much a part of the City of Boston as the team.

I think we should keep the CITGO sign as part of the skyline if for no other reason than to remind ourselves that once, not so long ago, the many but unique to each City ubiquitous neon, brand name and even animated skyline signs were symbols of productivity and pride in work, not to mention the celebration of a nation of dreams which purveyed a myriad of local and distant road trips for family recreation as well as business marketing the old fashioned way, which were in fact made possible by cheap fossil fuels and big old engines and companies we could trust to invest in our communities and not poison our children.
 
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Toe Nash

Member
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Jul 28, 2005
4,682
02130
Everyone will be wishing the sign had landmark status when the days comes that B.U. wants to tear that building down and put up a tower.
If the tower had a pleasing design, I wouldn't care. Cities change.

Of course, chances are it would be boring like everything else going up.

not to mention the celebration of a nation of dreams which purveyed a myriad of local and distant road trips for family recreation as well as business marketing the old fashioned way, which were in fact made possible by cheap fossil fuels and big old engines and companies we could trust to invest in our communities and not poison our children.
Which companies were these? Fossil fuels poisoned plenty of children.
 

aminahyaquin

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 21, 2005
238
West Virginia
Actually, I was referring to the industry that vitalized our nation, a good book to read about that is FREEDOM'S FORGE by Arthur Herman. However, back in the day, before the excessive corruption and competition to stay alive devoured the industries that produced most of our products along with living wage jobs and benefits, such as pensions, once thought to be immune from corporate raiding for the Wall Street compulsive gamblers' incessant game-playing with workers' lives, most every community had thriving downtowns and realized hopes for their kids to be able to have good standards of living, and shared recreation in the mainstream of common interests like a world class ball team.

You know, it strikes me that we went from having factories and production that were supporting local commerce, schools and community social goods, which could be monitored and have a risk and benefits ratio for our regions that allowed oversight of pollutants and cessation of problems, to an economy that has rather allowed untaxed, corrupting vice crime to flourish and find strong footing in a displaced working class, poisoning too many young people who once would have become autonomous and successful adults, with an encroachment of truly toxic social pollutants like addiction, that maim far more than any of the worst by-products of any smokestack industry,

As a small subsistence farmer, I also find it ironic that there is a serious impetus to prevent cows from belching or passing gas, a great deal of it from people who have say 7 car families (with one for the maid), and live in palatial splendor while exerting a hegemony on social goods from decent educations and access to technology to affordable fun for children, and o the enrichment opportunities of art, sport, and humanities, while the production of goods both material and social has moved to countries where regulation is almost non-existent, and maquiladoras and the ilk serve the dual roles of feeding the demand for snuff movies while creating mini-Bhopals.

Anyway the point is only we oldsters remember. Many of us worked in blue collar jobs, and most were part of the periphery of the positive benefits they brought to cities and lives. CITGO is not simply a fossil fuel sign, it is a vestige harbinger of the freedom and the mobility , both social and locally historic, that worked to produce tangible benefits and products for the teeming, thriving, vital, city of Boston's diverse neighborhoods. And again, to the sharing of sport with all of a community's denizens, not just the privileged few. Just my eldster's opinion.
 

teddywingman

Looks like Zach Galifianakis
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2009
8,527
a basement on the hill
Actually, I was referring to the industry that vitalized our nation, a good book to read about that is FREEDOM'S FORGE by Arthur Herman. However, back in the day, before the excessive corruption and competition to stay alive devoured the industries that produced most of our products along with living wage jobs and benefits, such as pensions, once thought to be immune from corporate raiding for the Wall Street compulsive gamblers' incessant game-playing with workers' lives, most every community had thriving downtowns and realized hopes for their kids to be able to have good standards of living, and shared recreation in the mainstream of common interests like a world class ball team.

You know, it strikes me that we went from having factories and production that were supporting local commerce, schools and community social goods, which could be monitored and have a risk and benefits ratio for our regions that allowed oversight of pollutants and cessation of problems, to an economy that has rather allowed untaxed, corrupting vice crime to flourish and find strong footing in a displaced working class, poisoning too many young people who once would have become autonomous and successful adults, with an encroachment of truly toxic social pollutants like addiction, that maim far more than any of the worst by-products of any smokestack industry,

As a small subsistence farmer, I also find it ironic that there is a serious impetus to prevent cows from belching or passing gas, a great deal of it from people who have say 7 car families (with one for the maid), and live in palatial splendor while exerting a hegemony on social goods from decent educations and access to technology to affordable fun for children, and o the enrichment opportunities of art, sport, and humanities, while the production of goods both material and social has moved to countries where regulation is almost non-existent, and maquiladoras and the ilk serve the dual roles of feeding the demand for snuff movies while creating mini-Bhopals.

Anyway the point is only we oldsters remember. Many of us worked in blue collar jobs, and most were part of the periphery of the positive benefits they brought to cities and lives. CITGO is not simply a fossil fuel sign, it is a vestige harbinger of the freedom and the mobility , both social and locally historic, that worked to produce tangible benefits and products for the teeming, thriving, vital, city of Boston's diverse neighborhoods. And again, to the sharing of sport with all of a community's denizens, not just the privileged few. Just my eldster's opinion.
I agree with much of what you've said here, but lets not get too misty eyed over halcyon days gone by. I grew up near the Merrimack River when everything in it was dead; and most of the things near it were dead--including the textile mills.

I have a soft spot for the Citgo sign. As a 6 year old at my first night game it's honestly what I remember most--mesmerized, having never seen anything like it.

It would be cool to see the sign preserved as a landmark; but indeed the Venezuala connection makes the decision less clear.
 

Fred not Lynn

Dick Button Jr.
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2005
4,756
Alberta
It would be cool to see the sign preserved as a landmark; but indeed the Venezuala connection makes the decision less clear.
It's not that it's a oil and gas company. Oil and gas companies aren't nearly as evil as popular sentiment wants them to be, its that it's the Venezuelan State oil company. Chavez has long been an enemy of the United States of America...it might as well be a hammer and sickle up there, or a swastika really. It just shows how generally uninformed the public can be.
 

luckiestman

Son of the Harpy
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
17,323
I really hope the sign stays. I get weirdly nostalgic about the Sox even though I don't care if they win. As the jerk who always took the field against the Sox in my house I watched many many games with people I love who are all now dead. Fenway looks close enough to how it did when I was younger that I am able to get lost in the sights, sounds, and ghosts of the game. I will hold out against any and all change.
 

luckiestman

Son of the Harpy
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
17,323
It's not that it's a oil and gas company. Oil and gas companies aren't nearly as evil as popular sentiment wants them to be, its that it's the Venezuelan State oil company. Chavez has long been an enemy of the United States of America...it might as well be a hammer and sickle up there, or a swastika really. It just shows how generally uninformed the public can be.

Chavez has been dead for 4 years.
 

teddywingman

Looks like Zach Galifianakis
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2009
8,527
a basement on the hill
It's not that it's a oil and gas company. Oil and gas companies aren't nearly as evil as popular sentiment wants them to be, its that it's the Venezuelan State oil company. Chavez has long been an enemy of the United States of America...it might as well be a hammer and sickle up there, or a swastika really. It just shows how generally uninformed the public can be.
Yeah. Which is why I mentioned the Venezuala connection, and nothing about the industry represented by the sign.
 

mauf

Anderson Cooper × Mr. Rogers
Staff member
Dope
Citgo wanted to take down the sign in the early 1980s, when it had been in place less than 20 years, but it backed down in the face of public outcry. It's kind of crazy that we're now talking about that same sign as some kind of public landmark, especially in a 400-year old city.

In my mind, the Citgo sign went from landmark to eyesore when the Sox built the Monster Seats, so that the sign can no longer be seen from most vantage points in the park.

Change is a constant in big cities, even more so than elsewhere. Tear the damn sign down already.