June 9, 2016

Citgo Sign in Kenmore Square

Citgo Sign2011

High above the streets of Kenmore Square in Boston's Back Bay is the famous Citgo Sign. The sign has been lighting the Back Bay night sky for roughly 76 years.

The sign get's most of its notoriety from the Red Sox TV coverage. You see it on TV every time someone hits a home run over the green monster.

The sign was installed in 1940 on top of the building on 660 Beacon Street. In 1940, there was a Cities Service Station on the ground floor.

Things I learned about the Citgo sign.

The sign is 200 feet above street level and the red light can be seen as far way as the hills in Belmont - about 10 miles away.

The sign is 60 feet by 60 feet.

The sign is approximately 1,200 feet from Fenway's Home plate.

In 1976, the lighting hours was reduced from all night to 9 pm to 11 pm to conserve energy.

Sept. 4, 1979, Governor Edward King, ordered the sign to be turned off as part of energy crisis.

The sign was off for 4 years. At the time, it cost Citgo $60 a week to have the lights on.

In 1981, after years of neglect, Citgo announced that they were removing the sign, but was met with a public outcry. On November 16, 1982, as workers were moving tools to the roof they were stopped by the commission's cease and desist order.

In 1982, ten voters petitioned the Boston Landmark Commission to make the Citgo sign a landmark. It was denied on January 25, 1983.

CITGO had agreed to spend $450,000 to keep the sign maintained and shining brightly for at least three years.

On August 10, 1983, just before 9:30 p.m., the sign was re-lit.

CITGO saved $12,300 by having the lights off. (Sign was off for a total of 205 weeks and 2 days)

The sign is not designated a protected national historic landmark or on a National Register of Historic Places.

Marty Foley is the official keeper of the Citgo Sign, he has been responsible for making sure that the sign works every day since 1965. He has his own company - Foley Electric.

The words "Foley Electric" appears just below the sign.

In 2006, the sign was in the middle of controversy when Jerry McDermott, a Boston city councilor, proposed that the sign is removed in response to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's insults toward American President George W. Bush. The proposal didn't go far as it was rejected by Governor Mitt Romney.

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