Pepsi-Cola Sign in Queens Gains Landmark Status


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The Pepsi-Cola sign, in what is now Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, Queens, faces the East River and Manhattan.

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Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

The Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City — a dazzling swirl of red curlicue letters that evokes innocent days of summer, heavy industry in Queens and a spectacular disregard for the waterfront in the mid-20th century — is now an official New York City landmark.

“Its prominent siting and its frequent appearances in pop culture have made it one of the most endearing and recognizable icons on the Queens waterfront,” Meenakshi Srinivasan, the chairwoman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, said in a statement.

The sign has been under consideration by the commission for 28 years. It was one of eight sites on the commission’s backlog agenda to be given landmark status on Tuesday.

At the time of the first hearing, in 1988, the sign stood atop Pepsi’s enormous bottling plant on the East River, which it had crowned since 1940. The Artkraft Strauss Sign Corporation reconstructed the sign in 1993, after heavy damage was inflicted by a winter storm.

PepsiCo closed the plant in 1999 and sold all but a 60-by-200-foot parcel of its 21-acre property to the Queens West Development Corporation.

The carved-out parcel accommodated the relocated sign, which PepsiCo was canny enough to recognize as a marketing opportunity that could not possibly be duplicated under existing zoning rules. The “P” and “C” are each 44 feet high, or roughly four stories.

By the 21st century, the sign had become so integral to the Queens waterfront that the TF Cornerstone development concern carved an eight-story notch out of its new apartment tower at 4610 Center Boulevard to accommodate the structure.

Technically, the current structure is not old enough to be considered for landmark status, because it was built less than 30 years ago.

But Damaris Olivo, a spokeswoman for the commission, said the 1993 reconstruction “was faithful to the original sign, which was approximately 50 years old at the time it was restored, and the sign has received a great deal of support from the public throughout the backlog process.”

Other properties from the backlog agenda that were designated on Tuesday were: the mid-19th-century William H. Schofield farmhouse on City Island in the Bronx; the Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance to the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn and the Green-Wood Cemetery Chapel; the 18th-century Van Sicklen House in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn; the main sanctuary, parish house and rectory of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan; an early 19th-century Federal-style house at 57 Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village; the Second Empire-style Ahles House in Bayside, Queens; and the Vanderbilt Mausoleum on Todt Hill in the New Dorp section of Staten Island.

The commission postponed until June 28 a vote on designating Immaculate Conception Church in the Melrose neighborhood of the South Bronx, Ms. Olivo said. The Rev. Francis Skelly, pastor of the Roman Catholic church, has strongly opposed designation.

“We are an immigrant parish,” he said recently. “Financially, we break even. But we’re always a boiler explosion away from being in financial trouble.”

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