They kind of blend into the background and you don't notice them much. Used to be, the operators owned the stands and paid $1,000 to the city for a two-year license. In 2003, Local Law 64 forced the operators to relinquish the stands to the city but permitted them to continue operating them at no cost. The ultimate objective was to continue the trend of subsidizing public amenities by contracting with private firms that sell advertising.
In 2006, the city inked a deal with Cemusa to replace 3,3000 bus shelters, 300 newsstands and 20 public toilets with gleaming stainless-steel billboards. Aesthetically, it's not much of a loss, but it can be argued that it takes away some of the grit that gives NYC character. Regardless, I documented a few of the late 20th century variety for the future to judge. (reference)
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