Federal Government Wants to Remove Times Square's Huge, Iconic Billboards

The federal government may be coming for the one thing that still gives Times Square its iconic and occasionally begrudgingly beautiful look, its stupid-huge billboards. Regardless of how you feel about the bright, colorful crossroads of the city's best throngs of tourists and roving packs of Elmos, it just wouldn't be the same without those flashing signs spanning whole buildings, look at it ... weird right?!?

Here's the deal. According to a report by CBS New York that is not an Onion article, the Obama Administration is reportedly enforcing the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which prohibits signs larger than 1,200sqft, like ones in Times Square. And since Times Square is considered an "arterial route" to the national highway system, the federal government has realized that it can deny New York $90 million in funding unless the enormous signs come down, according to the report.

Unsurprisingly, some New Yorkers are arguing that the law shouldn't be applied to Times Square because of its iconic status, including City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, who told CBS New York that it's just not gonna happen. "We’re not going to be taking down the billboards in Times Square," Trottenberg said. "We’re going to work with the federal government and the state and find a solution."

In other words, you can fuhgeddaboudit, feds. 

UPDATE: The feds are denying claims that they told NYC to remove Times Square's giant billboards, according to a report by Business Insider.

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and doesn't expect the billboards to go anywhere anytime soon. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.