Social media is a-twitter with laments as the neon advertising billboards have been switched off at Piccadilly Circus in London in preparation for a ‘new’ look few seem too keen to embrace.
Aside from the funerals of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, Piccadilly Circus neons have been switched off only once in a century – during the blackout of World War II from 1939 to 1949.
At 8.30 am on 16 January 2017 [local time] the billboard lights were turned off so that work can be carried out to erect a permanent single screen that will be unveiled in the northern autumn. The new single screen will carry up to six advertisements and provide live video streaming, event, weather and sport updates in what Ros Morgan, chief executive of the Heart of London business alliance, says will “bring visitors an enhanced entertainment experience”.
Land Securities, the commercial property giant that owns the site, has secured permission from Westminster Council to replace the patchwork of boards with a single, ultra-high definition curved screen.
The new display will boast one of the highest resolution LED displays of its size in the world, but the changing technology doesn’t appeal to everyone. People from around the globe took to social media yesterday to reject the ‘innovative’ initiative that many say will alter the essence of Piccadilly Circus, a destination in the city that attracts an estimated 100 million visitors each year, drawn by its famed billboard lights.