Scenic Philadelphia

Tony Davis – University City High School/Philadelphia Futures Intern

May, 2011 – Hello, my name is Tony Davis, and I am currently a senior at University City High School. I am also a scholar in the Philadelphia Futures: Sponsor-A-Scholar program. This program is for college bound students who wish to continue to further their education and use it as a springboard for a meaningful career. The Sponsor-a Scholar program has been one of the most helpful programs and it has also introduced me to my internship at SCRUB. SCRUB, is a group of dedicated, hard-working citizens, fighting against urban blight in our community. They work day in and day out to develop ways to better the scenery of our city. One of their goals is to reduce or eliminate harmful advertisement in our city. I was chosen to become an intern for SCRUB entirely on my future career choice. I want to become an excellent architect and my goals as an architect is to build spectacular buildings and houses to improve the visuals of the US.

It is fact that an attractive city does well financially opposed to an unattractive one. A beautiful city is a city in which people want to live, work and play. We know that the billboards in our city however, are causing repulsion. Also, billboards are energy consumers. Their bright lights and vibrant colors may be dazzling, but they are draining tons of energy by the second. It is a fact that the average billboard uses the same amount of energy as 30 homes in the US.  In addition, because of the random billboards sprouting on property, property values have decreased. A recent study showed that in Philadelphia, if your home is within 500 feet of a billboard, it is worth $30,000 less than other nearby property. This will not do! Especially, since we are already facing difficult economic times.

I never noticed how unattractive and ubiquitous billboards are until I joined SCRUB so now I share a very similar goal as SCRUB.  I want to join their fight against urban blight. Earth is home to the most wonderful and amazing cities with beautiful vegetation within and surrounding our cities. Sadly, some of our greatest cities are being disfigured by billboards. Numerous companies have been cutting down trees and disrupting gorgeous scenery by placing their billboards extensively around the cities. Many citizens have begun to rise up and fight for billboard removal. In the U.S. we have successfully eliminated billboards in Maine, Vermont, Hawaii, and Alaska, some cities  have a limited the number of  digital billboards; our goal is not yet finished but we are progressing greatly. The U.S. is not the only victim of this “billboard plague”, Paris, Rome, Venice, and other international cities have the same issue. For example, in Venice a group of cultural experts are revolting against the Italian government. This is occurring because the government is using advertisement in front of or around historical architecture.  The city of Rome, which is considered one of the most beautiful cities with astonishing relics, is losing many of its majestic trees. Ambitiously, Rome has begun to tackle this billboard crisis. In addition, Paris has already passed a new law restricting outdoor advertising. This will hopefully reduce its “visual pollution” by 30%.

Billboards and other outdoor advertisements are unwanted and unhealthy to our world. This is why we are fighting; not just the U.S., but the rest of the world is having the same issue. We want what’s best for our society, so nothing will stop us of ridding our world of billboards. Average, everyday people are stepping up as well to prevent this billboard infection. We, SCRUB, have changed our name to “Scenic Philadelphia” because our new name is a statement and a sign that there is still hope and there are people out there who actually care about the beauty of our world.