Watch it go: Iconic ‘Watchtower’ sign to disappear from B’Heights skyline

Coming down: The Watchtower sign, which has floated above Brooklyn Heights for nearly 50 years, is being removed from its perch as part of the Jared Kushner–led re-development of the Jehovah's Witnesses headquarters.
Brooklyn Paper
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Call it a sign off.

The iconic Watchtower lettering that has towered above Brooklyn Heights for nearly half a century is being ripped down as part of Donald Trump’s son-in-law’s conversion of the former Jehovah’s Witnesses buildings into a swanky office complex, city records show, and its expulsion will be a big loss for Kings County, according to preservationists.

“It was a very distinctive part of the Brooklyn waterfront skyline — for decades, as you walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, you knew you were in Brooklyn because there was the Watchtower,” said Simeon Bankoff, of the Historic Districts Council.

The Witnesses filed plans with the Department of Buildings on June 9 to remove the 15-foot-tall red letters from the roof of the building on Columbia Heights and Vine Street.

Developers Kushner Companies, Livwrk, and CIM Group — collectively calling themselves Columbia Heights Associates — purchased the headquarters for $340 million last year and revealed plans earlier this month to transform the buildings into a high-end office and retail complex called Panorama.

The builders plan to keep the sign’s framework, which includes a flashing temperature and date, and project renderings show some sort of red lettering affixed to it, but a spokesman declined to comment on what that will be and any other details regarding the sign’s removal.

Landmarking signs is difficult in New York City because, as long as the font looks the same, the Landmarks Preservation Commission does not have control over what new words are written on old frameworks, according to Bankoff.

But some locals could care less about the sign disappearing from the skyline, pointing out that people could not really see it from Kings County and joking the framework could be used to erect a poster for President Trump’s re-election campaign.

“In Brooklyn all we see is the back of the sign,” said Heights resident Andrew Porter. “They can always put something else on it, like ‘Vote Trump 2020.’ ”

Another neighbor mourned the loss of the well-known letters, but admitted her expectations that they would be saved were low.

“It’s kind of an iconic sign, but I assumed it was going,” said Doreen Gallo, president of the Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance. “It would have been great if they kept it.”

The Watchtower sign joins many placards that once characterized Brooklyn’s skyline and are now extinct, including the Kentile Floors, Eagle Clothes, and Bruno Truck Sales signs in Gowanus, the Domino Sugar sign in Williamsburg, and Red Hook’s E.J. Trum sign, all of which remains are a floating period and “R.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 5:57 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

good riddens from Brooklyn says:
Why would anyone want the symbol of a cult?

This "religion" prays upon weak minds and turns then into the control centers of live pamphlet yielding robots. It capitalizes off of the free labor of the robots it produces.

Brooklyn is a place of free thinkers and has no place for relics of an oppression.

A sign burning would be more apropo.
June 29, 2017, 10 am
Smart from ——Religion says:
Religion, the biggest and longest running scam in history. All of them.
June 29, 2017, 10:22 am
Frank from Furter says:
Good riddance to old rubbish. Leave the time and temp take the cannolli.
June 29, 2017, 11:59 am
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
No more Jimi Hendrix memories.
June 29, 2017, 2:55 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
Good to know this family is giving back nothing to the community and city they take so much from. The father was a crook and went to jail. So goes the son.
June 29, 2017, 3:20 pm
Maryann from Sheepshead Bay says:
How sad that this is happening. We have lost so many iconic signs in New York over the last few years. It just seems as though the city doesn't want to preserve any of things that remind us of yesteryear!
June 29, 2017, 7:01 pm
Jess Pratt from Brooklyn Heights says:
Rape cover-ups by Jehovah's Witnesses as investigated by NBC Dateline:
June 30, 2017, 9:22 am
samir kabir from downtown says:
If I read the word "Iconic" one more time, I will have stew shoes.
June 30, 2017, 4:24 pm
Peter Jenkins from Bay Ridge says:
Leave it to a Leftist "journalist" to take a shot at Pres. Trump over this sign. Good riddance to it. The cult is not even there anymore.
June 30, 2017, 8:58 pm
Ice Square from Bed Stuy says:
I don't understand what the hub bub is all about. The properties were kept in good shape. Get the sales tax monies. Buildings converting to jobs locally. People living there were good neighbors, that did spend money locally. Granted they are a bunch of lilly-white Bible thumpers, but how are they supposed to act, like the street monkeys around here breaking into everything?
July 12, 2017, 1:28 am
Robert Kostrow ll from B Heights says:
2001 9.11 The Watchtower helped a lot of distressed people I saw as I made my way through the crowds walking home. Yeah sure we find fault with the Jehovah's, but never had a problem with them, other than they're too goody goody. The old buildings they sold, we're kept in very good condition and of historical value. Hope Trump's son in law can do the same.
July 13, 2017, 12:01 am

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