Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blocking out the scenery*

…and the merchandise, and the other shoppers, and the ambiance of the store, etc., etc.

2722 Sunrise
Window Signs Become Walls – Milwaukee Ave.

In another example, excessive signage can cause windows to become walls. While certainly colorful, the signs above block out activity happening inside the store. Ok, I get it: all these products are available at these attractive prices. You don’t have to hit me over the head with it. In the process of the beating, you neglect the finer points.

I think these signs are better scaled for auto traffic than foot traffic, besides. And given the number of cars on Milwaukee Avenue, I don’t want any drivers suddenly slamming on the breaks because they want to take advantage of one of these offers.

As a pedestrian, however, I would have to step back to properly read the signs, and it’s too much information to take in. If I’m unfamiliar with the Logan Square area, the signs prevent me from getting a feel for the interior of the store: is it a busy store with other people shopping? is it clean? would I feel comfortable shopping there? is it a place I’d like to come back to another day when I have more time? If I am familiar with the area and just don’t happen to need your products that day, the signs give me nothing attractive to browse, and they possibly harm neighboring businesses’ ability to sell their products as I speed up my gate to hurry past a wall of signs.

sign wall

More Window Signs Become Walls -
Milwaukee Ave.

Like many other U.S. cities, Chicago’s Zoning Ordinance regulates the city’s physical form, including what signs may and may not look like, their size and number. With regard to sign control, the Zoning Ordinance sign regulations are designed to:

…promote an attractive visual environment; (and)

…(prevent) signs from dominating the appearance of the area….

Chicago’s Zoning Ordinance also classifies certain streets, including this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square, as “Pedestrian Streets” in order to:

…preserve and enhance the character of streets and intersections that are widely recognized as Chicago’s best examples of pedestrian-oriented shopping districts. The regulations are intended to promote..economic vitality and pedestrian safety and comfort.

To that end:

A minimum of 60% of the street-facing building façade between 4 feet and 10 feet in height must be comprised of clear, non-reflective windows that allow views of indoor commercial space or product display areas.

The Zoning Ordinance recognizes that transparent display windows enhance the pedestrian experience of Milwaukee Avenue. Some business owners apparently need some convincing.


*From the lyrics of the Five Man Electrical Band’s “Signs.”


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One Response to Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

  1. Christopher says:

    Perhaps it’s just me (as a graphic designer), but I love these signs. I love the typography I love the explosion of color. To me, it says vitality. It says commerce. Who needs to look into a grocery store? I think the whole bit about being able to see into a store or restaurant is greatly overstated. If I want to check a place out, I go inside. Perhaps I’m just more naturally curious.

    Christopher: I like the signs too (at least the orange ones, not so much those in the second photo). As a graphic designer, you are tuned into the aesthetics of the design. But there’s more than aesthetics to good design: e.g. purpose, usability, etc. That’s where the signs fall short… or short-change the community.

    Perhaps you are more curious than others. This stretch of Milwaukee Ave. has some appearance and perception problems. So if you’re not from the area, if you’re not used to the city, if you’re a woman… all are reasons to allow others to take a look into the store. It’s about a comfort level in addition to image. ~ Lynn

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