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Long Island City’s Pepsi sign landmark plan moves forward

The Pepsi Cola sign in Gantry Plaza State

The Pepsi Cola sign in Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City is seen on April 30, 2012. Credit: Agaton Strom

The most iconic symbol of Long Island City’s skyline — the Pepsi sign — is one step closer to being an official Big Apple landmark.

The 80-year-old neon sign, which now resides in Queens’ Gantry Plaza Square Park, was one of 30 locations that were selected for consideration by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday from its huge backlog of requests.

Preservationists, community leaders and admirers on both sides of the East River said they were thrilled that the commission was seriously considering placing the sign in the same league as other landmarks in the city.

“When you see it, you know you’re in Long Island City. At night, it’s a beacon for everyone who comes on the 59th Street Bridge,” said Rob Basch, a Gantry Plaza Square Park advocate.

A commission spokeswoman said the exact date for the Pepsi sign hearing hadn’t been determined, but it and the 29 other applications would be on the agenda for the 2016 calendar year.

An application for the red sign, which measures 60-feet-high by 120-feet-long, was first submitted in 1988 and it’s the first “free-standing commercial sign” ever to be considered by the committee, according to the spokeswoman.

Although developers promised not to demolish or move the sign out of the area when they built high end condos in Long Island City, residents still pushed for a landmark designation to guarantee that no future changes would affect its place in the community.

“I’m a New Yorker. For some reason, the sign to me ... it’s kind of like a reassurance in some way,” said Nina Feinberg, 61, of Turtle Bay. “If it were gone, I would miss it terribly.”

Some New Yorkers, however, said landmarking what essentially was an old advertisement didn’t feel right.

“I think there’s a conflict of interest there and once corporations have rights on landmarks, I think it makes things tricky,” said Yamar Ba, 33, of East Harlem.

The sign used to adorn the top of the Pepsi bottling plant in Long Island City from 1936 until the building’s closure in 1999. It moved to different rooftops along the waterfront until it landed in the park in 2009.

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