In West Philly, developing the identity of Baltimore Avenue is an ongoing vision of the University City District. UCD recently announced a design competition for banners that hang on more than 70 lampposts along Baltimore Ave. between 45th and 50th Sts.- lights that were installed during a capital improvement project a few years ago.

“But they have run their course,” said UCD communications manager Mark Christman. Now UCD is looking for a unique set of colors or designs to help identify the commercial corridor. And not just one. They’re open to selecting numerous winners. While Christman says this is not a rebranding campaign per se, that rather it is more about creating consistency along the corridor, we say it’s interesting to see a corridor try to create an easily marketable identity with a new image, and then market itself through these banners.

Current banner

We’ve all seen them. And they serve their purpose and they work (right?). For example, who would know about neighborhood efforts to restore areas of Francisville and Brewerytown without the “Ridge on the Rise” banners lining Ridge Avenue northwest of Ridge and Broad? Perhaps more applicable, is a suburb like Ambler where Main Street (Butler Pike) is lined with similar banners. They give a place a sense of, well, place. They make it look nice. Like someone cares.

Good thing they're being replaced

Creating banners that announce what neighborhood your are in is a perfect way to inform out-of-neighborhooders (out-of-neighborhoodies?) traveling your local streets about where they are, and repeating it in their heads in a creative non-intrusive, potentially stylish manner. It’s an advertisement one sees on each block. And maybe, the more interesting, unique, colorful and/or appealing the banners, the more interesting, unique, well, you know what we mean, people we think your neighborhood is—and it just might keep them coming back to your commercial corridor. You know, spending money in your community.

It is always good to see the efforts of a commercial corridor to refine their vision, and while doing it offering $200 in University City restaurant gift certificates and $300 cash for winners. Heck, we might just submit an entry, ourselves.

–Lou Mancinelli