Boston’s CITGO Sign Is the North Star for Red Sox Nation
Like a beacon in the night, the CITGO sign just beyond the left field wall has been guiding the faithful fans of Red Sox Nation to the friendly confines of Fenway Park for decades.
MLB.com's Ian Browne likened the sign at Kenmore Square to the "notable slices of uniqueness inside of Fenway Park – from the Green Monster to the triangle to Pesky Pole."
Browne wrote that the CITGO sign "literally serves as a backdrop to every Red Sox game."
The CITGO sign is 60 feet by 60 feet, and while it sometimes appears to be just outside the storied ballpark, Browne reported it is an estimated 1,200 feet from home plate.
According to Rachel Ellner's The Untold Story of Boston's Iconic CITGO Sign, "It became a near-instant – and unlikely – icon after it was switched on in December 1965."
The sign, designed by Arthur King of the New York-based Lippincott and & Margulies for CITGO Petroleum Corp, became an almost overnight sensation.
But according to Ellner, King, a Pittsfield, Massachusetts native, never understood why.
"I'd like to know myself why Bostonians feel so warmly about it," he said. "No one has ever told me why it has this response."
In 1979, then-Governor Ed King ordered the CITGO sign turned off as a symbol of energy conservation. Several years later, an attempt by CITGO to dismantle the sign was met with widespread protests and efforts to declare the sign a protected landmark.
CITGO restored and relit the sign in 1983, and in 2016, local developer Related Beal purchased the building on which the CITGO sign sits and later agreed to retain it "for decades to come."
CITGO Petroleum Corporation is headquartered near Houston, Texas. It is a state-owned company of the Venezuelan government – although, due to U.S. sanctions in 2019, they no longer benefit from CITGO.
The oddest thing about the CITGO sign is there is no gas station attached to it.