Just in case you were wondering about that little neon sign at Gantry Plaza State Park, we dug up a little background for you.
The iconic Pepsi-Cola sign is not so much a monument to fizzy deliciousness as it is to Long Island City’s industrial past.
In 1940, the sign was placed on top of a massive PepsiCo bottling plant that sat right where the park is today. Towering neon signs of the sort were actually very common at the time. The bigger, the brighter, the better the calling card. You just don’t see them anymore due to zoning codes that were introduced in the latter half of the 20th and early 21st centuries. The Pepsi-Cola sign’s own fate had been precarious through the years until it was granted landmark status in 2016 (after 28 years of consideration). It now functions as a permanent nod to not only the area’s, but the city’s, impressive manufacturing run.
Standing 20 feet off the ground — with a 50-foot bottle and the “P” and “C” reaching four stories high — the Pepsi-Cola sign is arguably the most recognizable feature on the waterfront.
But, the sign you see today is not quite what went up in 1940. The neon-sign bottle was redone in the 1970s to reflect the redesign of the real bottle. And, by 1994, the sign was so badly deteriorated that it was faithfully reproduced and replaced.
Then, in 2001, the plant closed. And, in 2004, the sign was dismantled and moved down the waterfront so that the building could be torn down. It was then moved back and permanently placed just a hundred feet from where it originally lit up the town. Today, PepsiCo remains responsible for the maintenance of the sign and the 60-by-200-foot parcel of land that it sits on.