Proposal for high-tech displays in Philly greeted by signs of disapproval

Listen
 Proposed UED for financial district

Proposed UED for financial district

A suburban Philadelphia man is proposing a new type of sign for the city. But an activist objecting to a proliferation of signs in the city contends a billboard by any other name is still a billboard.

Thaddeus Bartkowski is asking Philadelphia City Council to designate a “urban experiential display” district for Philadelphia where what he terms “the art” would be displayed.

He defined the UED devices as “physical, three-dimensional structures freestanding or attached to a building facade that would consist of various types of visual communication technology to deliver a message, while also functioning or looking like a piece of art or a piece of architecture.”

No matter how they’re described, the digital projections would be nothing more than electronic billboards, countered Mary Tracy of Scenic America, an anti-billboard group.

“I think it’s really important for everybody to speak up about this,” she said during a hearing on the plan. “How does everybody else feel about having these monstrosities in the middle of the sidewalk that are pulsating videos or streaming television shows, messages and advertisements?”

So far, no City Council member has been willing to introduce Bartkowski’s proposed bill to create a UED district.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.