Brooklyn Heights

Modest Proposal: Use key vista for ‘BROOKLYN!’ sign project

See more renderings of the sign below article

July 21, 2017 By Susanna Briselli Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A rendering of the Brooklyn sign in place of the 15-foot-tall "Watchtower" sign that is set to be removed from the Brooklyn skyline. Photos courtesy of Susanna Briselli.

Why a sign?

Brooklyn is a potent idea as well as a place. Whether one is familiar with the borough or not, it is and always has been a name that summons vivid images and associations.  In 2009, the motivation for making a free-standing illuminated sign on a site visible from Manhattan was to create a beacon, which would entice more visitors across the river, thereby increasing revenue and raising the borough’s profile and identity. In the ensuing five years, thanks to a proliferation of successful Brooklyn-based businesses, a brand new park, many new venues for the arts, a world-class sports arena, an influx of tech companies and young families, Brooklyn has become synonymous with the ultimate in hipness and chic, both here and abroad.  This begs the questions—is a sign still relevant and what more would it accomplish for the borough?

What function would the sign serve?

First, the sign itself would become an immediate icon much like the famous Hollywood sign, the St. Louis Arch, the London Ferris Wheel, the Eiffel Tower and various other highly recognizable constructions.  Why not have one in/for Brooklyn? There is no “down side” from any point of view. In addition, any property hosting the sign would also gain visibility and by extention, value. It would impart on the owners a reputation of civic spirit and commitment.

Next, it would establish Brooklyn’s identity and location day and night in no uncertain terms, and act as a powerful welcome.

The energy sources used to light the sign would be the most up-to-date in ‘green’ technology. The borough could point to this as an illustration of its commitment to environmental concerns.                                          

The investment/return equation

The financial investment to design, engineer and fabricate the sign is relatively small as civic projects go, especially when the long-term return on the investment is considered. The cost of periodic maintenance should be very low because the bulbs would be LEDs, which last for years.

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For all the reasons stated here, the real and obvious question is, why shouldn’t Brooklyn have a sign?

About the author: Susanna Briselli studied art and photography at Pratt and Penn’s graduate School of Fine Arts. She lives in Brooklyn and is represented by Getty Images.

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