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Area landmark gets temporary status as a landmark

WBUR reports the Boston Landmark Commission voted yesterday to grant temporary landmark status to the Citgo sign as it spends the next three months considering whether the iconic flashing triangle should get permanent protection.

The move means the owner of the building can't remove the sign as the commission ponders its fate. Boston University, which owns the sign, has not made any noises about removing it, but it is also looking to sell the building that serves as its base.

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Comments

Reducing the value of private property, reducing the potential increase in tax revenue from a future use of that property all to protect a piece of corporate advertising? Not cool.

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The sign is an exemplary and iconic work of Pop Art. There is nothing else like it. It's bold and beautiful.

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There is nothing else like it.

Except the Shell sign which is less then a 1/4 mile away in Cambridge.

IMAGE(https://c.o0bg.com/rf/image_960w/Boston/2011-2020/2011/10/13/BostonGlobe.com/Metro/Images/14shellmet_photo1.jpg)

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Did you read the sentence prior to the one you took out of context? The Shell sign was constructed in the 1930s. Ok you get points for its size and that Shell is also an oil company.

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Citgo haters here apparently lived somewhere else during the years when the oil company was assisting low-income residents in heating their homes.

The CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program, the only of its kind in the United States, has donated more than 235 million gallons of heating oil to more than 1.8 million people since 2005.
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They did something nice so we should make their advertisement a permanent landmark?

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What about subverting democracy in Venezuela by forcing people to vote for certain candidates or risk being fired?

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It's an ad, not a landmark. The current version of the sign isn't even all that old or notable in its design, construction, or message.

This is simply a gift to Citgo -- a company which needs no help from the city of Boston.

I'd be all in favor of replacing the advertisement with a "Welcome to Boston" sign or even a "Go Sox" sign which at least would make reference to the cultural importance of the Red Sox. (Citgo has no cultural or historical importance to Boston.)

This is a bad move made by people who are confused into thinking something well known merits calling it a landmark.

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Not to mention a taking of value from the property owner.

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Taking value from a property owner, who yes does pay taxes on that building, but doesn't pay taxes on a hell of a lot of other incredibly valuable real estate in this city.

We have historic districts in this city that preserve the character of the city and the remnants of the individualistic icons that make the city stand out as opposed to the latest chain to move into the area pollute the cityscape and then close or look just like their London store, or Orlando store, or Albany store. I crack up when I see the number of tourists with Victoria's Secret bag because you know that too tight thong wasn't available in Spokane.

I know it is the symbol of a Houston and Caracas based company, but to me, it has always been a symbol of Kenmore Square and of the Red Sox. Joe Carter of the Jays used to just stand there after he hit a home run and would say C-IT-GO.

There is a huge Martini sign in downtown Florence. Out of place, yes, iconic, yes. Citgo sign - Out of place, yes. iconic, yes.

I am also glad this a little stab back at BU, the greatest school in the world from the perspective of Suffolk County Long Island and the just good enough school for 16.1% foreign students who wanted to go to school in Boston. BU destroyed Kenmore Square, let's not make it any worse than it has become.

If preserving a sign, which BU is using to market the damn buildings anyway, is part of the deal, then it is part of the deal. Welcome to Boston. This is how its done.

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So what you are saying is property owners should do everything in their power to avoid creating a well loved landmark if they wish to retain full control of their property? Because after-all if it becomes well loved it should be the business of the government to ensure it does not go away.

Got it.

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''nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.''

I take it you do not care for the constitution?

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We have building codes, we have safety codes, we have historic districts, we have other restrictions, that make an organized society. In theory they are onerous. They are however confirmed legal restrictions on private property.

I know you seem to overly care about this massive university somehow getting shafted, but if I know how Boston government operates, the BRA will let some other part of the redevelopment of this site slide over the rules a bit.

I appreciate your absolutist nature on the power of the government versus the private organization and private property. Theory is great, theory is not brick and mortar though.

If you are really that concerned, I know some really, really good eminent domain attorneys in town who can look at your case and your standing in the matter. They will look at your complaint and say "Have a Nice Day".

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This is not a utilization of general zoning laws etc. This is specific to one building and reduces the value of that specific building by reducing what the owners can do with it. All to protect a piece of advertising?!

They are not comparable. Private property rights are not 'theory'.

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It's Chinatown.

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It's not a taking. The leading case on this is Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104 (1978), in which the Supreme Court found that landmarking Grand Central Terminal (and thus preventing the railroad's plan to put a skyscraper on top of it, and demolish part of the existing station) wasn't a taking.

The key is essentially that not allowing future changes doesn't interfere with the reasonable expectation of the owner to continue to use it as it is now, thus, not a taking.

Also I'd point out that private property rights are essentially what other people say they are. At the end of the day, who owns property and what they can do with it is a matter of 'you and whose army.' If you can't force or convince other people to go along with you, you're just a nut. If you can force or convince them to go along with you, that's the law. There's certainly nothing about property rights that's fixed in stone.

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Exactly. i doubt that many people think specifically of the Citgo Company and what it does when they see that sign. I think for most of us it is indeed a landmark, one of the few remaining from the so-called Old Boston. It's quirky and whimsical and unique, one of the many things that make Boston a unique city with its own personality. It used to be more so: some of us can remember when Harvard Square had a distinct personality. Now it's filled with chain stores that could be in any mall in any suburb in the country. When out-of-town friends visit and remark on the Citgo sign, I enjoy telling them, with some pride, that Boston believes in preserving examples of 20th century architecture, just as it does the Paul Revere House or the Old State House. I believe all of us in Boston are enriched by the many layers of history we come in contact with on a regular basis.

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Boston believes in preserving examples of 20th century architecture

With the hopeful exception of City Hall, which is widely hated. (And some of the other Government Center area buildings, for good measure)

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Because it is also widely loved.

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you mean revitalized an otherwise crumbling old red sox traffic trash bin. I'm so tired of seeing people on here complain about the universities. You forget what a huge population those students represent in this city. Boston would be a lesser version of Providence if it weren't for the schools. And the CITGO sign is a waste of space. Hate to pop that nostalgia bubble for you, but the sign is a waste of energy. Say what you want about it being associated with the sox, but they'd still play the same without it and ticket prices wouldn't plummet because it was taken down. If you're complaining about BU and the foreign population it brings to the city, perhaps you'd be happier in rural Mass. BU may be a greedy institution, but it's done tremendous things for this city and every residential building it owns is another one that slumlords like the Hamilton Company don't, so you can save your speech about taxes. You've clearly never had to deal with some of the horrible landlords in Boston. And by the way, stores change, rents increase, it pushes out unpopular businesses. Get over it. People that complain about progress make me sick.

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As an alumnus of both BU and the Hamilton Company, I have a hard time distinguishing between "slumlords." Talk to me after you've spent some time in BU housing.

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Why should the Red Sox get free advertising not long after being gifted a street for their private use? A street, mind you, that was already renamed for their racist former owner.

Either keep the sign or get rid of it.

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I say Red Sox as they have a cultural connection to the city, unlike Citgo which barely even has a presence in Boston.

That said, I don't see any strong reason to keep any sign. Take the stupid thing down.

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Obviously we need a giant Boston terrier glowing and flashing in Kenmore. Nearly matches the color scheme and more accurately represents the neighborhood. :D

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That would be pretty cool. Landmark even.

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I think we should go with the Big Wheel, as featured in Neal Stephenson's "The Big U" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_U.

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It's an ad, not a landmark.

So is the Hollywood sign.

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The hollywood sign isn't generally considered to be an advertisement by its spectators, unlike the Citgo sign. Furthermore, the Hollywoood sign has a strong cultural connection to the film making industry which is centered nearby. In contrast, Boston has no connection to Citgo -- the oil business has never held any particular importance to New England.

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You wrote that "It's A, not B."

I provided an example of another sign, like the Citgo sign, that is both A and B.

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Good! Kenmore Square is a shadow of its former self already, so let's try to keep in place the icons which make it unique.

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Yes we all know the key to great public spaces are oversized advertisements.

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I wouldn't say they're the key and while I'd love to be the first to bulldoze the current version of Times Square, in their own way, those oversized advertisements may contribute to some great public spaces.

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In my opinion this sign seems to be more of a representative icon of the older Boston; the dirtier, more local and provincial Boston, and it's removal is the figurative last domino in the overtaking of the city into globalism. This is the last stand for many NIMBYs all around the city, and while there will be a fair share of people who honestly love the sign, there are many who want to make this their last stand against non-native developers and out of state residents.

Oh and not to mention it represents a Venezuelan company that knowingly and willingly pollutes the earth, forces its workers to vote for its chosen candidates in political elections, has horrible safety conditions for those workers, and whose profits are then used to fund a corrupt government that isn't known for its humanitarianism or friendliness with the US.

Just get rid of it and put up a nice building.

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"last domino in the overtaking of the city into globalism. "

Protecting a sign from a multinational corporation is the last domino in the overtaking of the city into globalism? O_O

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To the people who think saving this sign is a good idea, yes.

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Do you have any idea what globalism is? The sign is rather representative of globalism.

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I understand what globalism is. The point I am making is that the perception among many longtime citizens is that the Citgo sign has become a Boston-specific icon, making it a representation of Boston more than an ad foreign company, and the thought of an out-of-state or out-of-city developer coming in and removing it sets off all of their nativist tendencies.

I do not agree with this viewpoint, but it exists and I have heard this exact argument from people in favor of keeping it.

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Fair enough.

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                  IMAGE(http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/wl08qw/picture1678863/ALTERNATES/FREE_960/7155905.source.prod_affiliate.56.JPG)
    

  • Too many cars
  • Too much money spent for highways at the expense of rapid transit
  • Too much space devoted to motor vehicles to the hazard of bicyclists and pedestrians

  
   IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/kenmore-t.jpg)
   
Imagine, if instead of honoring a Venezuelan oil company, Boston had a transit system we could actually be proud of.

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How Is Your Food Delivered to the Store? How Are Your Amazon Packages Delivered? How Are Your Clothes Delivered to the Store? What is powering your computer or mobile device right now? What are the components of your computer made from?

It isn't the smugness of people calling for a fossil fuel free society, I can guarantee it.

I hate arguing with your argument but until we are all killed off in some pandemic, dino juice is here to stay, albeit (thankfully) in a ever decreasing manner.

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Of course, we need trucks, and safe roadways are necessary for many aspects of commerce and travel.

The problem is in attempting to use single occupancy motor vehicles as a primary means of transportation into and within a dense urban core — it just doesn't work. It's impossible to build roads big enough for everyone to drive their own car. Attempts to do so always result in more traffic and more traffic jams. It's a vicious circle — you can't change the laws of physical space!

Things will only get better when infrastructure is prioritized for moving people — on foot, on bicycle, and on rapid transit — instead of just moving cars.

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False Equivalence.

Elmer gets the ball.

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"In my opinion this sign seems to be more of a representative icon of the older Boston; the dirtier, more local and provincial Boston "

Yes. That's the old, funky Kenmore square we knew and loved. I was sorry to see it go. Things had character in those not-so-long-ago days.The yellow styrofoam hotel they put up is awful.

"Under the Citgo sign she was looking so fine
At the Rat..."
-Willie Loco Alexander

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Interesting that so many people commenting against preserving the Citgo sign would have moved to Boston in the first place... this isn't exactly a city known for shiny new buildings and Walmarts in every neighborhood.

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Things change.

That is something a lot of longtime residents not want to accept. Sure for 50-60 years, Boston was a regional center with a stagnant population. Well now it is becoming international, and the population is skyrocketing.

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You haven't been around very long if you don't get that the universities of Boston and Cambridge have been home to international students by the thousands for decades now. Welcome, newbie.

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If they bring back the White Fuel sign.

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I don't own a car, and would love to see CITGO go out of business because people switch to T, bike, walk, and electric vehicles.

But I like the CITGO sign. It serves as a really nice reference point for many visitors and residents alike. It's been there since 1940 (first as Cities Service, then CITGO beginning in 1965). It's iconic to the city -- virtually any montage of Boston will include it. It's also neither old nor sleek and new... it's one of our few pieces which split the difference and remind us of a very different era that wasn't all that long ago.

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If the people of the city want to keep the 'landmark,' then they should certainly pay to run and maintain it. And I don't see why the city shouldn't pay for the space, just like Citgo did. I'm sure the school department has money lying around somewhere just begging to be spent on something worthwhile like a 'landmark.'

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No takings without just compensation.

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I am generally not opposed to using landmark status to preserve historic buildings, but designating the Citgo sign as a landmark goes too far. The sign has been there in its present form for about 50 years, and in its prior form just 25 years more. Should it therefore stay there for 500 more years? Why? Because a bunch of us living in the early 21st century feel a twinge of nostalgia for the scuzzy Kenmore Square of the 1970s? Will anyone care about that 50 years from now? And how do we know that something better won't take that sign's place 20 or 50 years from now?

If we as taxpayers had to pay for the right to put the Citgo sign there forever, how many preschools would we de-fund to make that payment? To be clear, I don't think that landowners are necessarily entitled to any payment if they own a historical structure that is designated as a landmark, but in this case it's certainly a dodgy question as to whether BU was on notice that a giant commercial billboard might be treated that way. In any event, it's useful as a thought exercise: if there's no way we taxpayers would pay any substantial amount of money to save that Citgo sign, that says something about whether it's worth saving.

I am proud to live in a historic city that takes care of its landmarks. But we can't say yes to every demand for preservation. In the recent rebuild of the Anderson Bridge, the Massachusetts Historical Commission required DOT to order bricks from Maine to meet size and appearance specifications. Given infinite money, sure, that sounds great. But we had to pay millions of dollars to avoid changing the bricks slightly in a bridge that's just a 100 years old? Does that make any sense?

In any event, I would vote no on landmarking the Citgo sign. I'm happy to see it, but if something else takes its place, I can live with that.

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We can't mandate that it remains a historic site forever. Future Bostonians will have the right, later, to change the rules and remove historic protection. There are no rules, no laws, no regulations that future government can't change.

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Replace it with a better neon work of art
https://www.google.com/search?q=neon+art&tbm=isch

see also
Museum of Neon Art
http://www.neonmona.org/

also
https://www.google.com/search?q=neon+art&tbm=vid

That it's a beacon is a predominant quality.

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