Billboards Having a Moment in Philadelphia

A proposal to add billboard advertisements to a pair of city-owned buildings come at a time when residents, and the federal government, are already concerned about the proliferation of billboards in the city.

2 minute read

November 1, 2016, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


The famous intersection at 8th and Market streets has been adorned with digital billboards since this image was taken. | 8th and Market / Google Street View

"Philadelphia is looking to cash in on some of its centrally located government real estate, with billboards proposed for the likes of Apple and Aldo on two of its public office buildings," reports Jabob Adelman. The buildings in question are the Municipal Services Building at 1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard and the One Parkway Building at 1515 Arch Street.

According to Adelman, the city has seen a wave of new digital billboards attached to development projects along East Market Street. As explained in an article by Inga Saffron from earlier in October, the digital billboards along East Market Street were made possible by a 2011 ordinance that designated the street a "special advertising district."

The ads on the two city-owned buildings were made possible by a May 2013 bill sponsored by City Council President Darrell L. Clarke. "A Council consultant estimated at the time that the city could bring in $8 million from advertising on public buildings, bus shelters, and trash trucks," explains Adelman.

A key point made by both Adelman and Saffron is the role of the Penn Department of Transportation in regulating billboards. The Federal Highway Administration even ordered "that control of those large billboards and digital displays be returned to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, saying the city had not been responsive to questions about enforcement," according to Adelman. Claudia Vargas reported on the Federal Highway Administration's action in September.

Monday, October 31, 2016 in The Philadelphia Inquirer

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