This blog, bloviating before its vacation, wondered whether anyone could tell what is underneath the electronic billboards of Times Square. Close examination suggests that few if any buildings there warrant exposure from billboard removal. The clear fact is that the billboards don’t cover them up enough. Not nearly enough. The one building in Times Square with no billboards is the beauty at the center of the photo above.
The Paramount Building, designed by Rapp & Rapp and completed in 1927, features tan masonry forming a shaft above a four-story base of lighter stone whose arched entry portal rises almost the full four stories of the base. The building steps back in deference to the 1916 law mandating setbacks to let more of the sun’s rays get to the street, and is topped by a massive clock tower surmounted by a globe.
One can only imagine if these buildings could speak what they might say to each other. The Paramount might be accused by its younger neighbors of pride – by not covering itself up with billboards. The Paramount might reply that the billboards fail to obscure the naked embarrassment of their wearers. They may treasure their commercial togs, but they are no more effective than poorly daubed makeup on a woman. Indeed, the Paramount might treasure its neighbors’ billboards even more than they do.
No, we would not have them removed, and it is unlikely that under the new federal highway law they will be removed.