"Asia on Argyle" sign at CTA station gets harsh community welcome

A new CDOT sign posted in front of the CTA Argyle viaduct so far has been roundly panned in the Edgewater community.

The sign proclaims “asia on argyle” in a lower-case, sans serif font. Certainly it was meant to welcome shoppers to the bustling Asian markets near the newly rehabbed station on the Red Line. But the community response has been anything but welcoming.

“This is just awful.”
“An eyesore.”
“Unfortunate…extremely puzzling… and completely unattractive.”
“The UGLIEST font possible.. it is hideous, horrible and a waste of taxpayer money.”

And those are just among the first of almost 100 negative comments the the 48th Ward Community Page.

Here’s what Alderman Harry Osterman said about the sign:

“The Asia on Argyle identifier was installed by Chicago Department of Transportation today. This is an exciting addition to Argyle Street and marks the beginning of more to come with an Argyle Streetscape officially in the works. Design for that will kick off this Spring – stay tuned for more details!”

Well, not everyone thinks it’s an exciting addition. What do you think?


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  • Actually, that is pretty awful.

  • It has a rather haphazard appearance. It visualizes the typical lack of foresight and planning that seems to be standard operating procedure for city government.

  • Unless the Argyle Chamber of Commerce asked for it, I think Osterman shouldn't have crammed it down their throats. Also, again it isn't telling people on the platform to get off here to get some pho, but the people on the sidewalk where they already are.

    At least it doesn't say "little ho chi minh city."

    BTW: Bad news for Scooter and his insistence that the longitudinal seats will eventually be ripped out. Someone noted on chicagobus.org that there is now a request for proposals on the CTA Contract Opportunities page for the 7000 series of L cars. And while it says that 3 alternative exterior and interior aesthetic proposals may be made, that sounds the same as the Sept. 2008 President's Report with the 3 proposals; those other than the 1976 decor being rejected. Given various references to the plastic shells and seat inserts interchangeable with those on the 5000s, "unless the Engineer agrees otherwise," it looks like Kevin's request for bench seats doesn't have much of a chance either. So, instead of grousing about 706 cars, all of you will potentially be able to grouse about 1550 (although I really don't believe that all options will be exercised). Happy Monday!

  • In reply to jack:

    Will these new 7000 series cars be ordered before or after the next Mayoral Election?

  • You could have looked at the link on the Contract Opportunities page, which says that the bidding closes on 7/25/2013. Even with the inevitable addenda, extensions, and time to evaluate the proposals, that still looks like before 2/2015.

    Aside from the conspiracy implications, the only relevant question is who will be the Chief Rail Equipment Engineer between now and around Oct. 2013. I don't think that is a mayoral appointment.

  • The "Asia on Argyle" sign I feel is ugly and an unnecessary use of scare public funds. How many trees would this have bought to replace ones on Argyle and Broadway that are in dire need of replacement? I feel it also does not send a meaningful or welcoming message. Why couldn't they have bolted a simple sign to the L viaduct "Welcome to Argyle Street." Perhaps along with a symbol or two that represents the many Asian businesses. What is up with the "traffic patrol vest green" color anyways? Something like the neighborhood signage in Andersonville and on Bryn Mawr by the Red Line would have looked far better!

    At least there seems to been enough coordination between CDOT and the CTA that a new CTA logo along with the stylized bus and train icons were left off that side of the viaduct. It would have been funny (and a further waste of public funds) if the Asia on Argyle sign completely blocked the brand new CTA logo!

  • If that sign is like the equally idiotic one on Devon along the west side of the C&NW tracks at Ravenswood Ave, then it cost over $100,000.
    Nice waste of money CDOT, for a broke city!

    As for proposals for the 7000 series L cars, why would you prepare this without having had the 5000s in service for a few years first?
    I'll ask it again: Why does CTA management hate the passengers?

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    1. Apparently they think they have enough money to lock in prices through 2020.

    2. While it is a spec. like the 5000 series cars, it isn't requesting 5000 series cars, just equipment with certain performance characteristics. The specifications don't call for Bombardier motors, Luminator signs, etc. per se. Thus, Alstom or Kawasaki could bid, but the first 8 7000s are supposed to go through the same prototype testing that the 5000s did. If Bombardier were the winner, I doubt CTA would impose that requirement again on them, unless they proposed something different on what appears to be the same spec.

    3. If CTA could develop a a performance spec for this, why couldn't it for the rehab of the 3200s?

    4. But for the purpose of your second paragraph, is this going to be like that 900 bus order (for the Olympics?), that, to New Flyer's surprise, they never got a Notice to Proceed, even though they commenced production?

    5. Given the thousands of references to the Chief Rail Equipment Engineer, maybe the person to answer your last question is Kielba, Robert A, who so listed in the CTA Salary spreadsheet. Know him Kevin?

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    OK, I'll bite. While I'm not quite sure "hate" is the right word, I think the process goes like this: A few passengers are clueless and obnoxious; that's pretty much a given. It's too much effort for some CTA workers and management to make a distinction between "a few" and "all," especially when they can't do much about the few. So they maintain an attitude toward all of us, one which might be justified if only directed at those who have earned it. In other circumstances this is known as prejudice, stereotyping, etc. It particularly rankles the vast majority because actually, we agree that the clueless and obnoxious ones tend to mess things up for everyone. Why can't the CTA be on our side in this?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I think you are imply much more thought on the part of CTA management than there actually is. I put it before that it seems more like an incompetent being a know it all--the perfect Dilbert scenario.

    But as the comments from the spokesmodel with regard to the "stuff happens" website, apparently they think that the passengers are stupid.

  • In reply to jack:

    Just a reminder - CDOT did this, no the CTA.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    In this case, the antecedent to "this" in this thread of replies was the 7000 cars.

    I recognized that the sign had nothing to do with CTA with my reference to it being like Wrigley Field signs.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well, I think I described a reflexive attitude rather than a conscious thought process. Because that's what prejudice is.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Or arrogant stupidity.

  • ....Yeah. That sign is pretty fugly. I'm glad they didn't go for a stereotypical "Asian" font, though, as that would have been worse. Could they contract with a local ethnic artist to craft a replacement sign?

  • In light of Scooter's comment on money, I note that Kevin is correct that the sign is "in front" of the viaduct, not on it, something usually done to hide a viaduct that can't support the sign.

    So, it wasn't just the cost of the ugly sign, but also the cost of pouring the footings, etc. But it is about as connected to the CTA station as a sign on Wrigley Field.

  • In reply to jack:

    The "Rogers Park/Edgewater" sign has separate footings as does the "Howard St." one just west of Clark/Chicago on the Evanston border.
    I don't know if Evanston paid any part of the cost.
    But the $100,000+ was what the articles said the price was when the Devon sign was put up.
    It may be more now.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    The impression I got from the design of street signs and traffic signals is that Chicago has the whole of Howard Street.

    However, I don't know the details of what made Bernie Stone take down the barrier he put in the middle of Howard approximately at where Target now is.

    The Devon and Howard signs also raise the issue that the UP probably didn't want anyone hanging signs on its property. I remember similar objections by Metra on a Milw. N. overpass (not a sign, just something to hide its ugliness).

  • In reply to jack:

    Chicago apparently does the traffic signals, which is unusual, since most border street signalling is done by the state DOT.
    Chicago has also put up the overhead signs at the major intersections, but Evanston has its own wretched street lighting & its own street signs for the side streets.

    As for Berny's Wall, Chicago wasted $250,000 to install it, as Berny didn't want Chicagoans going there. The installation was illegal as there were no breaks in it for at least a year which violated ADA accessibility laws. They were cut in eventually. He also got Kedzie & Sacramento made one way northbound to keep the mall traffic out of the city. Stone was quoted a few years later in a neighborhood paper that he liked to go there. Kedzie was made two way again after a while.
    The wall, really a guard rail was removed by the mall owner, Bell & Howell, at their expense while a lawsuit was still going on. But I've never heard of a settlement for that suit!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    If the boundary line is the north side of the street, the Evanston streetlights would be in Evanston. If it goes up to the parkway, that would be different.

    There might be an intergovernmental agreement, but given how the two governments interact, I wouldn't count on it.

  • In reply to jack:

    The boundary is the center line of the street.

  • Creating tomorrow's anachronistic kitsch today. The future residents will embrace it and the current residents will get over dilettante art critique.

  • The sign is rather pathetic. The vile green crossbar makes it look like an attempt to create an "Asia Town" gateway a la Chinatown that fails miserably between the electric green and lack of any relevant artistic cultural detail. The type and white background make me think of a temporary sign erected for a street fair or Grant Park event. (what, exactly, is it constructed out of anyway? In the photo, it looks like a painted fabric wrap - like the new "billboards") And it certainly isn't a Paseo Boricua (on Division Street). Let alone getting into the issue of neighborhood participation. Indeed a waste of money better directed elsewhere in the community.

  • I don't mind them trying to brand the stop, but the sign is awful. As I said on Edgeville Buzz the typography looks like one of those CAPTCHA things that websites make you read to prove you aren't a robot.

  • In reply to Kim Z Dale:

    Good point, but then they should have made more uneven and overlapping. ;-)

  • Is imitation truly the sincerest form of flattery? Well, only if the news outlet that ripped off your blog topic gives you credit. But alas, that was not the case for Chicago's NBC5 News at 6 today, as they reported on this same story. I'm fairly certain I was the only who had this story.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    You should contact them, but not sure what good that would do.

    Local news hardly reports anymore anyway.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    You mean the sign wasn't that obvious, after all?

  • Yes - hideous. Is there relief at night or are there spotlights on it?
    CTA/CDOT was doing so well with the rehabs and this is what the legacy will be?

  • I haven't seen the sign in person so I may feel differently when I do, but from the picture above, I would say the colors certainly brighten up a gray Chicago day.

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