Aug. 21, 2019 By Shane O’Brien (Updated)
The iconic Pepsi-Cola sign in Gantry Plaza State Park has been modified to include a second advertisement for the first time in its history, causing outrage among local residents.
A blue JetBlue logo was installed beneath the giant red Pepsi lettering on Tuesday to promote a new partnership between the airline and the soda company.
JetBlue announced that it was switching from Coca Cola to Pepsi for its inflight drinks service in May, and the two companies decided to modify the famous sign to celebrate it.
The JetBlue logo is only up temporarily and will be removed on Oct. 1, according to the airline.
“We know that people love the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City, which also happens to be JetBlue’s home,” a spokesperson for the airline said in a statement. “It’s a living monument of both the Pepsi brand, and New York City. That’s why we believe it is the perfect symbol to celebrate our partnership.”
PepsiCo and JetBlue applied for a temporary installation on the iconic sign in July and the decision was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission without any input from local residents on Aug. 14, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Since the change is to be temporary and less than 180 days, the companies weren’t required to notify the community or hold a hearing.
Residents voiced their displeasure on social media, with one such resident photographing the newly changed sign on Instagram along with the caption “landmarks should be left alone.”
Another resident took to Twitter and said “even though it’s temporary it’s unsettling as the door has been opened. Not happy. No one wants this.”
Even though it’s temporary it’s unsettling as the door has been opened. Not happy. No one wants this. (Pic via Twitter) pic.twitter.com/16w4zofqjv
— Eric (@Eric11714) August 21, 2019
The Pepsi sign was made an official city landmark in 2016 after nearly three decades of deliberation from the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC).
At the time, a spokesperson for the LPC called the sign “one of the most iconic features of the New York City Waterfront and an irreplaceable piece of the urban landscape.”
The sign was built in 1936 and sat atop the Pepsi Cola bottling plant on the East River from 1940 until 1999 when the plant shut. It was then moved to its current home in Gantry Plaza State Park in 2009 after several years of relocation.
The billboard occupies a site that is visible to the Upper East Side and the United Nations. Given it’s location, it will not be blocked by future development.