UPPER WEST SIDE — Its color may have changed, but some Upper West Siders are still seeing red over a mysterious peace symbol perched on a landmark building.
The lighted peace symbol, inside a top-floor window on the ornate Ansonia apartment building on Broadway and West 73rd Street, recently went dark for several days. It then returned in white instead of red.
The pacifist-themed beacon stirred controversy this past summer when some complained that it marred the beauty of the historic building. But others said they liked the peace sign and its goodwill message.
If there's a meaning behind the color switch, it hasn't been revealed. Neither has the motivation for putting a peace sign on the top floor of the storied Ansonia, once home to slugger Babe Ruth and composer Igor Stravinsky. The sign's owner has declined requests for interviews, as has the Ansonia's management.
But others are happy to weigh in on the illuminated symbol.
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and City Councilwoman Gale Brewer's office have both fielded several angry complaints about the peace sign, prompting Brewer to ask the Department of Buildings and Landmarks Preservation Commission to research whether the sign is legal.
A citizen filed a complaint with DOB about the peace sign, similar to complaints neighbors filed about a too-bright Duane Reade sign at West 72nd Street and Broadway. The DOB ruled that Duane Reade's sign was illegal and forced the pharmacy to remove it, but the department hasn't issued any violations against the Ansonia for the peace sign.
A neighbor with a view of the Ansonia said the peace sign is less jarring now that it's white instead of red, but she still doesn't think it belongs on the graceful building.
"A neon sign, regardless of symbolism, color or intention mars the elegance of the building and is not representative of the care that the Upper West Side takes of its history and preservation," said the local, who didn't want to be named.
"At least it's toned down a notch. White beats bordello red," said neighbor Gretchen Berger, but she agreed the sign is still a blight on the Beaux Arts building.
But others who can see the peace sign from their upper floor apartments said they'd grown fond of it.
Dan Reich, a lawyer in his 30s, said he likes the peace sign because it reminds him of the Upper West Side's progressive past.
"I find it to be a delightful addition to our skyline, recalling the liberal activist ethos that has long pervaded the Upper West Side," Reich told DNAinfo in an email.
"Call it a skyline marker reflecting the activity down below. Sadly, but also positively, the Upper West Side has been changing in recent years and is much more yuppie than hippie."
He added, "In some ways it is appropriate that us crazy Upper West Siders are still fighting over a peace sign in the sky years after the symbol has lost much of its social and political valence."