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Some Illumination on Lighted Signs Needed

By Daniel Rubin, Inquirer Columnist

Mary Tracy sent out a cyber call to arms recently. She was rallying the citizenry to blast Councilman Frank DiCicco with e-mails, letting him know that his bill to brighten the few dim blocks of East Market Street with fancy building wraps and digital displays was a disaster in waiting.

Is she wrong to envision Las Vegas by the Delaware? Tracy, head of Scenic Philadelphia, Public Voice for Public Space, has long had religion when it comes to billboards. She started as a young mother in Overbrook Farms, successfully battling Clear Channel over an illegal advertisement for some monster movie that scared the pants off her children.

Since then, the former schoolteacher has helped take down ads that line the city’s gateways, erase corporate graffiti, and peel off the tiny “8 sheets” that pock poor neighborhoods like broken windows – signals that no one much cares.

DiCicco’s bill would wrap ads around buildings that beg for restoration and renewal, she says. So much money would come from these signs, she says, that landlords would have no incentive to fill the interiors with people.