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Billboards: Snapshots of History


Billboards are collections of large photos. Some are funny; some are strange. Still some come out as ironic. However we see it, we have to face the fact that billboards are a constant reminder to us that there is life out there that is worth living. In fact, most billboards are memorable images that help us make our lives more worthwhile.

Billboards help people to find the place to eat, sleep, and get fuel for their cars, the nearest ATM machines. Imagine driving yourself to a place you are not familiar with and suddenly be struck with the urge to eat; or your car conking out on you because the gas tank is empty. Where do you get information when there's no available person to point you to the proper direction? Billboards.

Billboards help many businesses, especially small ones, in advertising and marketing products and services. With companies that do not have the money to spend on TV or radio commercials, billboards are the cheapest and it reaches far more people than any other form of advertising medium.

In short, life is simpler with billboards around to help us. They are a symbol of life. With billboards around, development and civilization is present.

Billboards, billboards, billboards. They are reflections of history and human survival. Billboards are everywhere, in all shapes and sizes. They often comment and reflect on events that occur in the present and the conditions of life itself. Some carry important messages, be it personal or otherwise political. With the development of billboards, and outdoor advertising for that matter, the development of life itself comes with it.

Billboards can trace its lineage back to the earliest civilization. We could trace human genealogy along with the history of billboards and outdoor advertisement.

Egypt's Stone Obelisk: Man's First Outdoor Advertisement

Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians used a tall stone obelisk to publicize laws and treaties. This is the early form of outdoor advertising. With the advent of publication through the obelisk, people have their first advertisement. Political and more it may seem, but still advertising nonetheless.

Early Stages of Advertising

When Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable type printing in 1450, modern advertising was introduced through the handbill. And in 1796, the first illustrated poster was made when the lithographic process was perfected.

As time goes by, people are looking for more desirable locations to ensure constant exposure of their message for a fixed period of time. Thus, bill posters began to erect their own structures in locations where there is heavy traffic.

First U.S. Billboard Erected When Circus Came to Town

In the beginning, Americans used roadside advertising for local purposes. Businessmen and merchants painted signs or glued posters on walls and fences to advertise their establishments and what they have to offer.

It was in New York where the first large American outdoor poster (more than 50 square feet) was posted. Jared Bell's office printed posters for the circus in 1835. In 1850, exterior advertising was first used on street railways.

Public Service is a Billboard Thrust

In the 1900s, there was a boom in national billboard campaigns. Big advertisers began mass production of billboards for the national market. From toothpaste and soaps, to breakfast cereals and sodas, billboards were made to advertise in big bold pictures and images. And in 1913, the practice of filling "open boards" with public service advertising has continued to this day. During the war, there was a concerted effort from the industry to help in the mobilization. While in peacetime, the concern was focused on efforts to generally improve the way of life.

Today digital technology has changed billboards...

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