About This Location
The Boston Citgo Sign, perched high above Kenmore Square in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, is a legendary city landmark that holds a special place in the hearts of both locals and tourists. It is an iconic, double-faced sign featuring the distinctive logo of the oil company Citgo. Here's a closer look at the history and significance of this beloved sign.
The history of the Boston Citgo Sign dates back to 1940 when the first version was erected. This initial sign displayed the green-and-white trefoil logo of Cities Service, the precursor to Citgo. In 1965, it underwent a transformation and was updated with the modern Citgo logo that we recognize today. While there was once a Cities Service station on the ground floor of the building, the sign is now a historic symbol rather than an active gas station advertisement.
The Citgo Sign gained widespread recognition beyond Boston through its frequent appearances in the background of Boston Red Sox games at the historic Fenway Park. It became an integral part of the Fenway neighborhood's landscape and Boston's visual identity. it is also frequently used on hats, mugs, puzzles, and more to represent Boston.
In 1979, during a period of energy conservation efforts, Governor Edward J. King ordered the sign to be turned off. However, this action unexpectedly triggered a wave of public affection and protest against its removal. The Boston Landmarks Commission intervened, delaying the sign's disassembly while the matter was debated. In 1983, Citgo refurbished and relit the sign, which was celebrated by a cheering crowd of 1,000 sign enthusiasts. Since then, the sign has remained a shining presence in Boston.
In 2006, amid political tensions between the United States and Venezuela, where Citgo's parent company is based, there were calls to remove the sign. Boston City Councilor Jerry McDermott proposed its removal as a response to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's insults toward U.S. President George W. Bush. The controversy highlighted the sign's connection to international politics.
In 2016, the Boston Landmarks Commission took steps to designate the sign as an official Boston Landmark. This preliminary status protected it from immediate removal while a study was conducted. In November 2018, the Boston Landmarks Commission unanimously voted to officially designate the Citgo Sign as a Boston Landmark. However, this decision was later vetoed by Mayor Marty Walsh.
In the midst of these developments, Boston University, the previous owner of the building on which the sign stands, sold the property to local developer Related Beal as part of a significant real estate deal. A new lease agreement between Citgo and Related Beal was reached in March 2017, ensuring the sign's presence for another 30 years. It is unknown what will happen after 30 years, but odds are that the sign will stay because of all of the love it receives.
Today, the Boston Citgo Sign continues to captivate locals and tourists alike. It is a cherished photo opportunity, drawing photographers day and night. Visitors flock to the sign, making it a must-see attraction when exploring Boston. Metered parking spaces can be found along Beacon Street, and numerous streets nearby offer metered parking and parking garages/lots, ensuring easy access for those who wish to pay homage to this enduring symbol of Boston.