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"Turn Up The Lights! I Don't Want To Go Home In The Dark" ... O.Henry's last words, 1910

Posted by Jim Botticelli  September 9, 2013 02:42 PM

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The Cities Service/CITGO Sign Gracing Kenmore Square With Corporatism Since 1940

"Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising" ... Mark Twain

It was widely detested in during the 1973 "Energy Crisis" as a glowing (pun intended) example of wasteful energy consumption. Why, the thesis went, did we have a megawatt sign shining over Kenmore Square burning untold amps of current requiring heaps of voltage every night? And why too was this megawatt sign extolling the virtues of a commodity that was becoming more precious and pricey on a daily basis forcing commuters to line up at ungodly hours to pump a sometimes rationed amount into their cars?

That sign survived those years and to this day lights the Kenmore Sky every day. People love it, wattage, waste, corporatism, and all! The sign (pictured above in its original form) was built in 1940 over a Cities Service (later CITGO) divisional office. The 60' x 60' sign, perhaps the largest in Boston, has withstood 5 hurricanes packing 80 plus MPH winds. Time Magazine declared it an "Object d'Heart", and in 1983 the sign became the subject of a photo essay for Life Magazine. In 1968, the critically acclaimed short film “Go, Go CITGO” captured honors at the Yale Film Festival. The movie featured the sing along with music by the Monkees and Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar. In early 2005, the CITGO sign went through a major restoration and technology upgrade from using neon tubes to LEDs.

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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