By Bill Parry
It took nearly three decades, but the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City’s Gantry State Park is finally an official New York City landmark. The City Council voted 43-0 in favor of the designation last week.
“For almost 90 years, the swoops and swirls of the Pepsi-Cola sign have welcomed visitors to Long Island City and symbolized Queens’ status as an industrial powerhouse,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “Today, after long last, we’ve officially made the sign a New York City landmark, and this staggering piece of pop art will now shine forever across the East River.”
Changes in the zoning code in the latter half of the 20th century and early 21st century contributed to a reduction in the number of large, illuminated signs, which once crowned the factories and warehouses of Long Island City’s most prominent companies. The Pepsi-Cola sign was built in 1936 and stood atop a massive Pepsi-Cola bottling plant since 1940.
The plant was closed in 1999 and demolished to make way for the 21-acre Queens West Development Corporation. When TF Cornerstone bought the site from Pepsico, it agreed to display the sign on the property and when the developer constructed the last of six luxury high rises, it had architect firm Aquitectonica design the building to wrap around the sign. The building’s facade facing the sign is set back for the first eight floors and juts out from the ninth floor to frame the sign.
The Pepsi-Cola sign had been under consideration by the Landmarks Preservation Commission since 1988.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr