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Critics Slam 'Asia on Argyle' Streetscape Sign

By Adeshina Emmanuel | January 28, 2013 12:50pm | Updated on January 28, 2013 3:10pm

UPTOWN — Reviews are mixed when it comes to the "Asia on Argyle" sign that was installed outside the Argyle Red Line station last week.

The sign was an attempt to reflect the strong Asian influence on the neighborhood, brighten up the area and help local businesses, according to 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman's office.

Osterman has called the sign "an exciting addition to Argyle Street," that "marks the beginning of more to come with an Argyle Streetscape officially in the works."

But nearly 100 people have commented on the 48th Ward's Facebook page, where the sign, with its lower case letters and sans serif font, received little love and much criticism.

"Can we get a redo? Please?" one post read. "Seriously if this is the harbinger of 'more to come,' I'm going to consider that a threat." Another post called the sign "almost as bad as" the London 2012 Olympic logo, which some referred to as the worst in history.

And Uptown resident David Friedland, a 39-year-old flight attendant who saw the sign for the first time on Friday, immediately said, "I don't like it."

"That's my gut feeling," he said. "I don't like the font. I don't like that it's all lower case. And I really think it looks too cutesy for a neighborhood that has so much character."

Wally Rozak, assistant director of Uptown United, an economic development organization, said that the planning process for the streetscape will get under way this year and that it will be installed in 2014. He said the idea for the sign came out of the administrations of former aldermen Helen Shiller (46th) and Mary Ann Smith (48th).

"They wanted to have some sort of visual change for the area" that matched the "theme" of the area and made it more appealing for businesses, Rozak said.

The idea was to promote and rebrand Argyle Street through enhancing building facades, installing "signage and design features" that connect to Uptown's entertainment center and "direct visitors from Lake Shore Drive and the neighboring bike path," according to a 2008 report.

Rozak acknowledged that he's heard "mixed reviews" of the sign, but said he was optimistic that it will grow on people as time passes and other streetscape plans commence.

"It will look better when it's lit," he added.