Hey, Donald, here’s how to do a sign

Written By ingesteruat Posted: 07/14/2014, 06:28am
Array CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 12: Workers install the final letter for a giant TRUMP sign on the outside of the Trump Tower on June 12, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Many in the city are opposed to the sign including Mayor Rahm Emanuel who has called it tacky and tasteless. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Consider the Chicago Sun-Times.

Not the media company, but the two matching signs — “Chicago Sun-Times” — on our riverfront building.

The signs are a flat and muted color. They are set demurely to the left of center. They are backlit after dark by the softest light, like candlelight at a quiet dinner.

They are good neighbors, sociable but not loud. They add a touch of hometown color to the graceful bend in the river below.

We like to think that the two signs, not to lay it on too thick, reflect the spirit of the Sun-Times itself, a news operation in print and online that we like to think serves as a friendly beacon in a city we serve and understand.

Aren’t we great?

But then there is Donald Trump, who has a sign, too.

Trump’s sign — “TRUMP” — now being affixed to his skyscraper on the Chicago River, is no friendly beacon. It is no candlelit dinner. It is anything but a good neighbor.

It is, rather, an obnoxious New York interloper, not unlike The Donald himself.

The TRUMP sign, which is still being installed, will be five shiny and reflective steel letters, 20½ feet high, mounted about 200 feet above the ground.

It is Donald Trump in stainless steel, braying for attention, front and center in everybody’s sightline, impossible to miss. All it lacks is the hair.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel hates the Trump sign, too. A spokesman for the mayor told the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic Blair Kamin — who got the ball rolling on this — that he’s exploring ways to get Trump to remove the sign.

Chicago’s downtown riverscape, especially that stretch from Lake Michigan to where the river forks, grows more attractive by the year, adorned by old and new stylish buildings — definitely including Trump Tower — and lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants, walkways and greenery. But it is a functional elegance, more understated Midwest than brash New York.

You won’t find many building signs along the river, but there are some, most of them reasonable in design, size and placement. At their best, such as the Boeing logo affixed unobtrusively high atop its building, the signs say something good about Chicago — this is a happening town for corporate headquarters — without despoiling the view.

In a tweet Thursday afternoon, Trump complained that the Tribune critic (whom he, of course, disparaged as “dopey”) failed to “mention the ugly Sun-Times sign.”

Trump almost certainly was referring to the bright yellow sign above the old Sun-Times building, where Trump Tower now stands, and we might agree. It wasn’t much of a sign, or much of a building. Maybe that’s why both are gone.

But if he was referring to the two signs on our current building, how terribly hurtful of him. We must disagree.

If only The Donald had consulted with us before putting up his gaudy sign. We could have explained to him how such things are done west of Times Square.

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