Good Times

Robin Donovan on how change can shake our foundations.

Standing a couple dozen floors above Times Square last summer, gazing down at the chaos of cars and people, I sensed the enormity of the universe – and of the sizable sign being dismantled a few feet away.

Seismic change can shake our foundations, and as I looked toward 2019 this month, I was reminded of that moment of awe staring down at New York City streets.

I’ve been chatting with longtime ST contributor Louis Brill a lot lately – Louis M. Brill, to be precise. Louis has always been a precise guy. And he covered the changes that came to multi-million-dollar Times Square signage for 15 years. When I described my vantage point to him recently, he could name the building’s address.

Louis is retiring, and we chatted about all that has evolved in those city blocks. Once, Louis said, “If you wanted a sign on a building, you bought the sign and put it up. Nowadays, because of LEDs and media façades, a lot of real estate developers are doing that themselves.” 

Times Square, to Louis’ mind – and to my own –is a kind of sign laboratory that includes “the best and the worst” of what the industry has to offer. What works there, what survives, is probably technology coming to a city near you, albeit on a smaller scale.

If our freelance roster seems wanting without Louis in it, I ask you remember that transition is undeniable as we move forward, each of us just one among the billions of beings in a universe where the only constant is change.

Robin Donovan's recent view from high atop Times Square.

Robin Donovan's recent view from high atop Times Square.

Signs of the Times August 2019

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