Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cut It Out

Posted by Julie Zando-Dennis

There's an organization out there called "Scenic America" that bills itself as a nonprofit organization "dedicated solely to preserving and enhancing the visual character of America's communities and countryside." According to the organization's website, at, "America's beauty and community character are being obliterated by a steel curtain of visual spam."

I came across this website when researching how communities have organized to prevent unsightly utility lines installed by cable/internet companies. The house next to mine, which is in foreclosure, is criss-crossed with cables, and it’s clear that when they were installed, the cable company couldn't care less about trying to run the lines in an orderly manner. Cables shoot directly up from the cable box to a window on the second floor, loosely and not tacked to the house, and race across the house several times, with no attempt to run in an orderly, perpendicular fashion. It's a mess.

In my own house, to mount the cable jack on the second floor, the cable company drilled a hole in my 130 year-old window molding. I wasn't home when it happened, otherwise, I would not have allowed it. Plus, the cable sticks out about 3 feet off the floor. What were they thinking?

Obviously, they weren’t thinking. We need to increase awareness and to pressure the cable/phone companies to respect our neighborhood and historic architecture. Any ideas on how best to get the community involved in this effort?


noel jones said...

Ha! Great image. I agree--this is a chronic problem, especially in the West Ward. There are so many old cable lines that no one bothered to cut as each new renter moved in and ordered new cable. The lines interrupt so many streetscapes here. I can't tell you how many times I've decided not to take a picture because of all the cable lines in the way. A perfect example is the view of 7th Street when looking down from the gates of the cemetery. Another is standing across Ferry street from my own house! I'm tempted to take a picture and sweet-talk my fiance into re-touching the cables out--they are so unsightly!

Fia said...

I would be interested to know what other communities have done, what did your research find? It's not just the cable companies, although I agree with Noel that it is a chronic problem, there are places where a new electric pole was installed and the old pole left behind. On the corner of 15th and Spruce is one example, wires everywhere!

Anonymous said...

the cable companies have no choice, and are only part of the problem. since the west ward isn't considered important enough, plans were never made to run utilities underground, albeit would be incredibly involved and expensive. the poles are really old and they have to carry power and telphone and cable. add to that so many apartments, each one needing cable and you've got a friggin mess.
for years I appreciated that my house was the only one on the block w/o a power line visible (it came from a pole in the yard) but when I finally got cable I had no choice but to get a cable run from across the street.
btw, RCN did as beautiful of a job w/ it as they could, ran it real nice down the side of my house.
as for how they install the wire into the house, the window frame is the only safe way, really. you can't drill a hole right through the wall w/o knowing where the studs are, or if there is insulation or wiring in the wall, or if its brick. they could bring it in the basement, but then you have to get it up into the rooms. so really, drilling a small hole through the window frame is the only way w/ an old house. if you don't like it, they live like they did when they built the house.

Anonymous said...

right. besides the cable guys howabout the sat dish installers? some houses have like 4-6 or more dishes! some are on porch roofsof haging off the side of the house! why can't the landlords specify a limit; or maybe, have ONE dish that they install, and split oit off to each tenanat?
ppl just don't care. i cant find it now, but there was a guy running a blog about the ugly houses in the city, maybe we can drw attn to it that way? why do ppl let theire homes be so filthy?

Julie Zando-Dennis said...


To answer your question about what my research found . . .

Scenic America would be a good resource, as they provide, in their words, "effective, on the ground help for communities, citizen groups, government agencies, and organizations on protecting and enhancing valued landscape character."

Scenic America has numerous state affiliates, but unfortunately, none in Pennsylvania.

The pertinent question perhaps is "WHO should spearhead the effort?" These issues affect the entire city of Easton, so a city-wide effort would make the most sense. Is there an organization that is well-placed to take on the challenge of organizing community activists and lending support? Perhaps the Northampton Historical Society? Or both the College Hill Neighborhood Association and the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership working together?

Joanne said...

Agree that all the wires, cables, dishes are horribly unsightly and this matter requires some overdue attention. Would love to have utilities underground.