Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Signs, signs. Not everywhere a sign.

Boyd Building Jumbotron
I don't feel too badly for the Boyd Building owners and the city's decision to have them remove their sign. Actually, even using the term 'sign' is a misnomer. It's a stadium-sized television on which to sell and display ads !

Portage Avenue, St. James ca. 1967 (source)

Genser's Funriture 2
Portage Avenue ca.1950s

I'm not an anti-sign guy. Actually, I think that signs can make a streetscape look busy and fun. Here and on my travels I am constantly looking out for great signs and I wish Winnipeg that would actually loosen up a bit on restrictions to allow for more creativity and street overhangs.

The 'jumbotron' is another thing all together.

I remember that the Aspertron (can we still call it that ?) and APTN sign had restrictions regarding their content. They could promo or show what their owners had to share, not provide general advertising space.

Aside from the whole size and permit issue with the Boyd sign, they also went ahead and rented the space to advertisers. Add the two together and, hey, what business wouldn't want to make a few bucks by hanging out a permit-free television screen to advertise to passing motorists ? Forget those black signs with the neon letters !

I'm sure that the city permit route was a frustrating and painful one. Still, it's pretty hard to sneak by a 12 x 8 jumbotron and figure it wouldn't be noticed.

Portage Avenue
Soooo ... not sure what you were thinking but good on the city for standing firm. While you're at it, for good measure, bring back the jellybeans to your empty lot while you're waiting to build your parkade !

Boyd Building Spanking John Dobbin
Some building-hung signs from my travels:

The Mount
Downtown Winnipeg
Gladstone Manitoba
Del's Electric, Princess St
The Pal
Austin Texas - South Congress
Neepawa, Manitoba
Starland Theatre
Olympia Cafe Sign
Camden Market
Brandon Downtown
Oriental Theatre, Chicago
Happy Days in Rivers !
Camden Market
Glenboro Manitoba


Fat Arse said...

The pulse and cadence of a changing city can always be measured by its public signage. Examples provided here are a joy to behold... thanks-be-to-whatever-deity works there were no banal 7-11 "signs" included in this post! Thank-you.

One Man Committee said...

The Boyd Building's landlords didn't follow the rules and deserve whatever they get from the City. But that said, it's time to reconsider Winnipeg's restrictive approach to signage.

Like most cities, Winnipeg went too far back in the 1950s and 1960s trying to stamp out signage. I guess the clean and sleek look was in at the time and while it certainly has its place (a Miesian building would look weird festooned with signs), the fact is that for sheer vitality it's hard to beat a street with lots and lots of bright signs.

The worst thing about Winnipeg's anti-sign mindset is that the uglier signs out there (like the black hunks of plywood with changeable day-glo letters, or jumbotrons) proliferate while the nicer ones are a no-go.

Even the photo of Portage Avenue you posted looks like a more appealing place with the presence of signs. There's just something so epic about an array of colourful signs... I'll take more of this, please. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahconnollyphotography/1448250408/