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Downtown Manhattan Residents Irked by Times Square Style “Neon Lights”



William Street in the financial district of New York. Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

The brighter the lights in Gotham, the darker, apparently, the mood.

Denizens of downtown Manhattan say they don’t care for the profusion of decorative lighting.

The addition of eye-catching, nightclub-bright neon to building facades down in the Financial District is making locals irritable.

“You shouldn’t take a neighborhood like ours and make it like Times Square,” Joan Randell, a retiree living on Beekman Street, told the New York Post this week. “It’s a classy neighborhood with old, beautiful buildings. My apartment is beautiful. I look over City Hall Park, and people who live in this building — it’s almost 140 years old, it’s a landmarked building — and we like a certain style. We don’t want to be in a disco all night.”

Rush Perez, a spokesman for Manhattan Councilwoman Margaret Chin, told the Post, “Among some of these new developments, there seems to be a tendency to view FiDi or TriBeCa with the same lens as you view Times Square. The perception is they are not residential, but they are.”

As local resident Robert Skula said at a community board meeting, as reported by eBroadstreet, “The displays on the outside of those buildings are brighter than the spotlights on the top of the Empire State Building. Every 30 minutes, they start a three-minute show with pinwheels and flashing strobes.” He said more than 50 tenants at 71 Broadway have filed 311 complaints about the lights since they were installed last July.

The message is getting through to city fathers. Last year, New York began replacing some of its 250,000 street lights with lower-brightness bulbs in answer to complaints. According to the Post, roughly 150 complaints were registered back in 2016 after the $75 million changer-over to LED bulbs began. Mayor Bill de Blasio even noted during a radio interview that changes were being made in direct response to the volley of complaints.

Perhaps Manhattanites’ sentiment was expressed best by manufacturer Mega LED Technology in an essay titled Use Your LED Sign For Good, Not Evil. It reads, in part: “Yes, your LED sign is yours. But other people have to look at it too, and there’s a big reason why you don’t want to be that guy when it comes to advertising: Your brand will suffer, and so will your sales… Your business doesn’t exist separately from your community. That’s never more apparent than with LED advertising, since the medium literally takes up a chunk of the local real estate. Do your business a favor—set yourself apart from the crowd by adopting these LED best practices, and stay on your neighbors’ good side.”

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