Tuesday, November 15, 2005

21st Century Landscape: Cell Phone Towers

At the turn of the last century the urban landscape featured smokestacks. We've got cell phone towers.

To be exact, according to this site, there are 117,562 cell phone towers in Chicago as of September 2005. And, once you've noticed one, you see them all.

It's like riding up the elevator with someone who's humming Yankee Doodle Dandy. You can't get the damn song out of your head three hours later. Nor can you get the cell phone towers out of your sight. They're everywhere. And, they're as ugly as Yankee Doodle Dandy is annoying.

An August 2005 Associated Press story quotes monthly payments for cell phone tower space rentals at $800 - $2000 and the number of cellphones in use nationwide at 190 million. That's a pretty easy-to-understand explanation of why these things proliferate regardless of the vistas they destroy. The market couldn't care less what they look like.

More thoughts and photos here on cell phone towers in our landscape by blogger Dan Bricklin.


Michael Allen said...

I forsee a time when cellular transmission equipment will be considered a substantial alteration to a building, thus denying it listing on the National Register of Historic Places. On some buildings, the equipment is not only highly visible but obscures ornamentation, window openings etc.

SteelintheAir said...

CTIA (our industry organization) estimates that there are 200,000 total cell sites in the US. 113,000 of them do not reside in Chicago. My company maintains cell tower data and Cell Tower Maps- my guess for Chicago (and it is a guess as there is no way of actually knowing other than collecting proprietary data from the carriers directly) is that there are 2000 or so cell sites, of which a much smaller percentage are actually towers.