Service of Billboards in the Right Places

April 1st, 2019

Categories: Billboard, Marketing


I first heard about a ban on billboards when driving through Vermont decades ago. According to, “Vermont was the first of four states, along with Maine, Hawaii and Alaska to ban billboards. In their place, Vermont uses travel information signs along state highway corridors to guide residents and visitors to destinations that are located off those highways. Typically these smaller, standard format signs are clustered together to further reduce their visual effect. Businesses with frontage on state roads and highways may install signs that conform to local sign regulations.”

Now New York City is fighting digital billboards on barges on Hudson and East Rivers. According to Katie Honan in The Wall Street Journal, “Zoning regulations prohibit advertising on waterways throughout most of the city, including along residential and commercial zones and in view of highways and bridges, according to city officials.”


She reported “‘Our waterways aren’t Times Square,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said in a statement. ‘These floating eyesores have no place on them.'”

A Ballyhoo Media boat “carries 20-foot-tall and 60-foot-long TV screens displaying digital ads. It usually begins its routes on the Hudson River in Midtown, then heads south around Battery Park, continuing north up the East River to Roosevelt Island. The ads are visible to motorists driving on two waterfront roadways in Manhattan, the FDR Drive and the West Side Highway.”

If the judge favors the plaintiffs, each violation would be subject to a $25,000 a day fine. Two councilmen want the fee to be $100,000/day and are introducing a bill according to Honan.

What do you think about billboards: Should municipalities be even more particular about where they go? Do you find the information on them useful or distracting when you drive? Do you object to seeing floating billboards on New York City’s waterways?


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8 Responses to “Service of Billboards in the Right Places”

  1. ASK Said:

    No more ads…anywhere! Sorry, I’m sick of seeing them. These billboards distract from our scenic waterways and, plain and simple, ruining the magnificent NY skyline either from Queens or NJ. There should be an outright ban on them.

    And while I’m venting…I am sick and tired of internet ads as well. Everywhere! You download a web page only to have to wait to for all the ads to appear before you can interact with the page.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    There are a few neon signs–like the landmarked Pepsi sign in Queens that seems to have been there for as long as I can remember–that might have shocked in the day but that I enjoy seeing. And if billboards are isolated in Times Square, fine. Otherwise, with the exception of discreet signs on parkways that alert drivers to an exit leading to a historic house or other tourist spot, I agree with you.

    I can hardly read some information on some websites with commercials bouncing up and down on the right of the screen and social media links covering copy on the left. Maybe I’m not supposed to read the copy?

  3. Hank Goldman Said:

    Even as an advertising man, I think there are already too many billboards. Having just driven all the way to New York from southern Florida, couldn’t help but notice the old raggity boards, the neater 20-year-old boards, and those new giant 100 foot high in the air McDonald’s and Hardee’s and Burger King announcements — way up there! While they do serve a purpose for information, the proliferation is unnecessary.
    Merritt Parkway is so pretty to drive on, mainly because of the absence of printed material “in your face“!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I spent most weekends year ’round at our house in Millbrook in Dutchess County for 24 years. There the country roads are blessedly free of billboards. As you drive closer to Poughkeepsie in commercial areas there are plenty of them on Rte. 44. As long as they stay clear of the pristine countryside I’m OK with billboards though I find most tremendously unattractive and in dire need of creative advertising graphics stars such as you.

    In addition to the Merritt Parkway, the Bronx River Parkway and the Taconic are also beautiful and billboard-free.

  5. EAM Said:

    One of my favorite billboards was on the highway in Florida from an office that did vasectomies.
    800-555-SNIP. Well, it got my attention and made me laugh.

  6. jmbyington Said:


    That is funny. Easy to remember how to get in touch—smart for a billboard or any ad.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    I’ll cast a vote for banning the billboards, while disliking governmental interference in a basic right. Reason: They may distract drivers, causing accidents, some of which could be fatal.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wonder if there are statistics about people distracted by billboards in accidents on highways and also wonder if the copy and image on a billboard must be approved by some Department of Motor Vehicles division to determine that it can easily be read, doesn’t contain too many words, the size of the letters so easily read, not too crazy an image etc.

    The billboards that Hank described above–very tall and into the sky–might be unattractive but if they feature a well known logo or name, such as Macdonald’s, and an exit number and nothing more, they could be helpful to those who need a cup of coffee or a pit stop.

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