Yesterday morning, Manhattan Borough Prez Scott Stringer stood in front of a petite crowd of protestors — eight folks from the Municipal Art Society, plus many more cameramen and reporters.
Why were they there? “Black mail advertisement!” Mr. Stringer said. “Excuse me. Black market advertisement!” He gestured to the Citibank billboard behind him, a mammoth ad that wraps around the entire Flatiron Building on scaffolding.
“If you see it on a scaffold,” he said, “it’s not legal.”
“This is a sophisticated operation yielding millions of dollars. The Munipal Art Society identified 44 of the worst spots, and close to 80% were never inspected or fined. 29% are on landmarked or historic buildings! If Philadelphia can register legal ads, so they can go after the illegal, why can’t we?”
We can. The Department of Buildings just passed new regulations against outdoor advertising–which involve registration and $25,000 fines against “visual clutter.” But that new law wasn’t mentioned by Mr. Stringer.
Yet maybe this corporate graffiti is an implacable enemy: four trees blocking the view of a Chelsea cell phone billboard were recently cut down. No one seems to know why.
Update: Citibank says it will “look into the matter” of its Flatiron eyesore.
– Max Abelson