Signs The Old Fashioned Way

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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If you travel the Long Island Expressway to or from Manhattan, you’ll note that just off the the Midtown Manhattan Tunnel to New York’s city limits, signs have come down because of two new statutes. Billboards are not allowed within 200 feet of an arterial highway or park, and a sign’s surface area must not exceed 500 square feet. Signs built before 1979 are exempted.

Local Law 31, which went through a hard-fought legal battle, is the main reason the outdoor advertising industry is wringing it’s hands. The city appears to be building up permit enforcement that distinguishes between using a rooftop sign to promote an on-premises business and advertising for a product or business that is not on-site. Violators can be fined up to $25,000 for a single offense. Maybe signs and billboards have had their day.

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I wanted to know if this had anything to do with quality rather than quantity, but it seems the signs are distractions to motorists. Still, I wouldn’t mind a distraction or two if they were as handsome as the old fashioned signs produced in the late 1920s below and used as examples on how to make great signs (from the book “Commercial Signs” published by the International LIbrary).

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For more Steven Heller, check out “The Education of a Graphic Designer‚” one of the many Heller titles available at