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The man who plastered Boston with handmade signs - before Doug Bennett

The Ephemera Society of America has an overview of the sign work of Vincent Zarrilli, who made hundreds of black-on-yellow stencilled signs protesting what would become the Big Dig, along with the "Dukakis Artery rats" he said would flood the city during construction, and promoting his alternative for a "Bay Bypass" - basically a double-decker bridge across Boston Harbor, from Dorchester to Charlestown.

Zarrilli died in 2018. His original claim to fame, the Boston Pot Shop, originally on Boylston Street opened in 1959 and continues to sell pots and pans (what did you think he would sell on Boylston Street in 1959?), now from Framingham and under the ownership of his daughter.

Zarrilli, who once also proposed turning old aircraft carriers into floating prisons, backed up his signs with a self-filed federal lawsuit against the city and state over the Big Dig, but he lost.

Long after the O'Neill Tunnel and Zakim Bridge opened to traffic, like in 2012, Zarrilli continued to push his plan, even if in more subdued black and white:

Bay Bypass plan

That was a few years after he tried to get the state to lower the speed limit in the tunnel.

H/t Kit.

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Comments

I remember seeing all those "Back The BB" signs everywhere.

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Back in the 1990s friends from out of town would ask me about those ubiquitous "Back the BB" signs. I remember even seeing those signs while driving through Concord NH on I-93 while on my way to visit my mother in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom...

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I always wondered what those signs meant. They were everywhere!

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Me, too! I thought they were for the Bruins!

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Oh, man - I worked in customer service at Gnomon Copy in Cambridge and at Copy Cop in Boston from the mid-70s to the early 80s, and I remember him well as a regular customer. Besides those stenciled signboards, he produced reams of xeroxed flyers. (Mostly I remember that he absolutely reeked of cigars - I used to fantasize that everything in his house was made of cigars.)

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I think I had mostly missed this. It's... ummm... something to marvel at.
Please tell me he had some profile sketch - I'm dying to know how this double-deck highway/bridge would have worked crossing US1 in Chelsea, taking the East Boston waterfront, running along Fort Point Channel, blocking some air traffic patterns for Logan, and taking Tenean Beach.

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The diagram shows the elevated highway using Castle Island as a landing point. No more Sullivan's. No more fishing pier. Maybe no more fort.

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The Pot Shop was/is known as the primary vendor of stoneware Boston beanpots, both as a tourist item and as, well, a pot for cooking Boston baked beans. They also sell "the original French chef omelette pan," designed with the help of Julia Child. For years he had a shop in the first block of Salem Street in the North End. If I recall correctly, once there was a fire in the store, and the building sat vacant for a long time. It was ultimately demolished and replaced with a larger structure.

Said shop, as you note above, is now run as a mail order (and wholesale) business by his daughter Mary: .

But Mary is herself a notable figure in Boston political history; she once ran for State Auditor and before that she was appointed (by Mitt Romney) to the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. The irony there, of course, is that the Turnpike Authority at that time was responsible for the operations and maintenance of the Big Dig tunnels that her father had so vocally opposed.

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