Skip to content

When all the signs came down

Honky-tonk scene

Burlington MA downtown

Honky-tonk Burlington? Yes, by the mid-1960s, Burlington apparently had too many big, colorful signs. So in September of 1966, Town Meeting ordered all free-standing signs to come down — but allowed a five-year grace period to comply, making September 1971 the deadline to remove the signs or else. Or else what? A fee of $100 per day for any business that failed to comply. And so down they came, 50 years ago this month.

Kemp's Hamburgers sign taken down early 1970s, Burlington MA
Kemp’s Hamburgers, corner of Cambridge Street and Forbes Ave.


Murray's Real Estate sign coming down, Burlington, MA 1971
Murray’s Real Estate, corner of Cambridge Street and Skilton Lane.
A&P sign coming down, Burlington, MA 1971
A&P supermarket, now the Used Book Superstore on Cambridge Street.
Route 128 Drive-In, Burlington MA
128 Drive-In, now the Burlington Crossroads plaza (anchored by Target). Looks like some motorists helped disassemble the sign by bashing it.
Esso and Atlantic Burlington MA
Jack Kilmartin’s Esso Station on the left, and Dom’s Atlantic gas station on the right. Now a Convenient MD and a Shell station, respectively.
Burlington Homes Real Estate Burlington MA
Local auto body shops probably loved this sign and the oopsies it must have caused. Too bad it had to go.
Burlington cleanup day
Here’s a pic from Burlington’s annual “cleanup day.” See the sign for Burlington Professional Center in the background? Well, the foundation and post are still there.

Burlington Professional Center base, Burlington MA


In other news from exactly 50 years ago:

  • Value House was about to open in the former IGA building on Cambridge Street
  • Francis Wyman Junior High had split sessions, with the first shift starting at 7:30 and the last dismissal at 5 p.m.
  • People were murmuring about assassinating President Nixon:

Killing president conspiracy, Burlington MA 1971

  • The new Town Meeting section of the Burlington Mall (a side corridor) held a grand opening.

Town Meeting grand opening, Burlington Mall, 1971

  • Burlington’s “skyscraper” was underway.

Middlesex Bank "skyscraper" construction 1971 Burlington MAHere’s a picture taken from that bank building, looking out at the new Burlington Mall and unfinished New England Executive Park, now District Ave.

New England Executive Park under construction, Burlington MA

  • And Sal Todaro was elected to the School Committee. The Burlington News sent a photographer to his house to get his wild reaction when the town called to say he’d won the election. And here’s that wild reaction:

Sal Todaro, Burlington, MA

And now, a word from our sponsors:

6 thoughts on “When all the signs came down Leave a comment

  1. I can remember most of them. The Murray sign was a surprise.

    Thanks for keeping this living history.

  2. great article, i thought the Kemp’s sign was so cool. all that great bright colored neon.

  3. What amazing memories! For me, BHS grad of 1962, supervisor of summer recreation programs 1964 – 1975. Youth Center Director 1967 – 1975. Thank you Burlington for being such an amazing part of my world from 1955 – 1976.

Leave a Reply