You may have noticed teams of people in orange vests whitewashing advertising billboards in Manhattan and Brooklyn today. They weren't employees of NPA, the company that maintains the billboards. In fact, they were part of a subversive network convened by the Public Art Campaign to take back hundreds of advertising locations that NPA has placed around the city.

We tagged along with one of the whitewashing teams this morning in SoHo, as they took down five billboards. Surprisingly, no one looked twice at them as they walked around with an enormous bucket of paint, brushes, and a wobbly cart. Later, we biked over to LES, where NPA employees had already commenced retaking the whitewashed billboards, less than an hour after they were painted. And still later, we took some shots of the artists the PAC had organized to paint the remaining billboards.

Only time will tell if this protest will call attention to the problem of pervasive, illegal advertising here in New York. So far, the city has been loathe to enforce the existing zoning rules that are supposed to prevent these kinds of ads, and from the complete lack of reaction of the local police officers we saw today, that doesn't seem like it's going to change anytime soon.

Did you take any good billboard pix today? Send them to us at, or tag them "gothamist" on Flickr, and we'll add them to the gallery.

Update: the Times is reporting that five people were arrested in connection with the protest.