In Long Island City, they prefer Pepsi-Cola — at least one would assume so from the large sign standing watch over the waterfront. The long recognizable icon to tourists and a source of pride for Queens residents will be inducted as an official New York landmark.
The sign has been considered for landmark status since 1988 with some discussion whether it met the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) criteria of being a landmark of at least 30 years old, since the sign had some reconstruction due to modernizations and natural disasters resetting its age.
But LPC spokesperson Damaris Olivo and proponent for the signage to become a landmark has said that the restorations were “[…] faithful to the original sign, which was approximately 50 years old at the time it was restored, and the sign has received a great deal of support for the public…”
The sign has been so intrinsic to the borough’s waterfront district that the TF Cornerstone development company built its 8-story apartment tower around the newly appointed landmark’s structure.
Said Meenakshi Srinivasan, chairwoman of the LPC, “Its prominent siting and its frequent appearances in pop culture have made it one of the most endearing and recognizable icons on the Queens waterfront.”
Envisioned and brought to life by the Artkraft Strauss Sign Corp, also responsible for Time Square marvels, the Pepsi-Co sign laid claim to the top of the Hunters Point bottling plant in 1938. The letters span from as low in height as 15 feet to heights of 44-feet at the most prominent letters, the “P” and “C”.
The sign was rumored to be planted by Joan Crawford, board member of Pepsi-Co and widower of former Pepsi executive Alfred Steele, as a jab at co-op residents of River Hous – of whom Coke president Robert Woodruff was one. (The board had previously rejected her application for residency.) A genius at product placement, the tall tale would’ve made for Hollywood gold if it were true.
Currently part located on the Northern tip of Gantry park, the sign still features prominently as a definite welcome to tourists and onlookers alike. The designation of the marker has been part of a slew of backlogged candidates for New York landmark status in the LPC’s docket but the cultural and historical significance of the ‘monument’ is a testament to industry and marketing brilliance.