It seems like everywhere you go in a major city, you’re inundated with advertisements, signs and other distractions that steal the precious moments of your attention away from the city itself.
In addition to being distracting, studies even suggest that too much visual stimuli can affect a person’s mental health, causing eye fatigue, dizziness and even anxiety or depression.
Things like billboards, graffiti, company signs — even things utility wires or litter can leave people feeling overwhelmed.
But what if there was a way to remove all of those advertisements and other “visual pollution?”
HouseFresh.com, a website focused on air quality and other quality of life factors, decided to see what some major metropolises would look like without all the added visual noise.
Using images of major cities and landmarks, HouseFresh designers used photo editing software to remove billboards, company signs and other distractions that you might see on a regular basis to present an alternative view of what the world could look like with less visual pollution.
The results are pretty interesting.
One of the locales chosen for a visual pollution power wash is Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
While it is a strange sight to see Los Angeles without some of its iconic neon signs and cornucopia of confusing parking restrictions, it’s an interesting change. Would walking on Hollywood Boulevard be more enjoyable and less anxiety-inducing in this fictional world? That remains unclear.
Los Angeles isn’t the only American city to be reimagined by HouseFresh. Both Times Square in New York and a portion of the Las Vegas Strip got a deep cleaning.
Both landmarks are world renown for their bright and vibrant signs and advertisements. With all the visual pollution removed, the aesthetic is significantly more sterile and a bit strange to look at.
One of the stranger images shows Times Square as it looks today versus how it could look with no visual pollution.
This image shows Paris Las Vegas Hotel without its signature hot air balloon and wall of neon advertisement.
Would Las Vegas still have its reputation as one of the entertainment and nightlife capitals of the world if the city was less visually unique and advertisements weren’t as aggressive?
Perhaps the starkest change, and arguably the most welcome, is an image of Piccadilly Circus in London.
Piccadilly Circus, London
Stone architecture buildings that were erected more than one-hundred years ago are currently covered by massive LED screens that display a wide variety of ads. Piccadilly Circus has hosted the big screens and billboards for decades.
If you remove them, you’re faced with an almost unrecognizable piece of London’s past.
As mentioned above, it’s not just billboards and signs that can act as pollution for your eyeballs. Utility wires and other clutter can create a sense of anxiety when you stroll through a city.
In Delhi, India, it’s not an unusual sight to see cables and wires hanging from various buildings along crowded corridors, but here’s what it could like.
In total, HouseFresh revamped and revitalized eight cities, including famous landmarks in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Kampala, Uganda. To see more of the images, click here.
So what can be done about visual pollution? Well, advocates for “scenic conservation” say developers need to keep the the natural beauty or the architectural charm of a community in mind before plastering it with billboards or other distractions.
With billboards in some highly trafficked areas like Times Square costing thousands of dollars per day, it’s unlikely those ads are going away any time soon.
But it’s nice to imagine from time to time.