Times Sq. billboards at risk?

Times Square (CityLab)

Times Square (The Atlantic’s CityLab)

Leave it to Kristen Richards and ArchNewsNow.com to post an article relevent to my own personal agenda – in this case, my trip down to New York City on Amtrak, starting in two hours and 26 minutes. That’s when our train leaves Amtrak’s station in Providence. We will be staying at a Hilton just feet to the left of the edge of the picture above.

Read Laura Bliss’s “No, the Feds Are Not Requiring Times Square to Remove Its Billboards” in The Atlantic’s CityLab.

The story posted on ANN describes how new federal transportation legislation puts the famous billboards of Times Square at risk. Not in time to cleanse the view from our hotel, I’m happy to say. Apparently, New York is the only state that has challenged the new law, which designates hundreds of thousands of miles of arterial road (such as Broadway as it plows through Times Square) as federal highway, subject to existing federal law on how many billboards are permitted and how proximate they can be to these highways – with punishments in the amount of 10 percent of whatever federal funds accrue to such highways.

Hey! I’m starting to sound like a federalista myself!

Anyway, it is clear that places whose billboards are a kind of cultural landmark will be able to exempt themselves from the regulations. Typical! Take all those billboards off the buildings of Times Square and what will you have? How can anyone really know? All those buildings have been covered with ads for so long that who knows what horrors (or otherwise) might be underneath.

Warning: Post no bills to this blog these next few days expected. How’s that for federalese?

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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