Pepsi Cola sign to be landmarked this year

By Bill Parry

The iconic Pepsi Cola sign that sits on Long Island City’ waterfront is a step closer to landmark designation along with two other Queens locations: the Bowne Street Community Church in Flushing and the Ahles House in Bayside.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to prioritize the three items during a marathon hearing Tuesday in which they tried to clear a “backlog” of properties that have spent decades in limbo at the agency.

The 80-year-old neon sign, which stands 60-feet-tall and 120-feet-long, sits in front of 46-10 Center Blvd. at the northern end of Gantry Plaza State Park.

It had been under consideration by the Landmarks Preservation Commission since 1988.

“I’m pleased and proud that the LPC has listened to our community’s requests to move forward in recognizing the Pepsi Cola sign as the New York City landmark that it is,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “The Pepsi Cola sign has been an iconic part of the Long Island City landscape since 1936. This staggering piece of pop art brings character to our neighborhood and reminds current residents of Queens’ history as an industrial powerhouse.”

Though a date for its hearing has not been determined, the Pepsi Cola sign will likely be designated a landmark later this year meaning no future changes would affect its place in the community. But its place in the community was already solid.

When the TF Cornerstone bought the 21-acre site from Pepsico in 2003, it agreed to display the sign on the property and when the developer constructed the last of six luxury high rises on the site it had the architect firm Aquitectonica design the building to wrap around the sign. The facade facing the sign, and the East River, is set back for the first eight floors and juts out from the ninth floor up to frame the sign.

While the sign, the Bowne Street Community Church and the Ahles House are prioritized for designation, five other locations in Queens have been removed from the LPC calendar, meaning they are no longer under the purview of the agency.

The Spanish Towers and the Fairway Apartments in Jackson Heights, the First Reformed Church and Sunday School in College Point, the Proposed Douglaston Historic District Extension, and the Old Calvary Cemetery Gatehouse in Sunnyside are on that so-called “no action” list.

The LPC still has the right to reconsider these properties in the future.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.