NEW YORK–Never mind that business about a camel passing through the eye of a needle, said to be analogous, in its difficulty, to a rich man entering heaven. In ads all over town, Citibank has been telling us to “live richly,” and it is now doing so on a huge billboard–140 feet long–above the portico of Grace Church, at Broadway and 10th Street. The avenue bends just where Grace Church stands, making the 1846 building visible for miles downtown, a beautiful neo-Gothic jewel nestled among taller structures, a sacred pause before Broadway veers uptown to theatrical fame.
But standing before the church, one now reads: “If happiness is just around the corner, turn often,” near the Citibank logo and its “live richly” design. That corporate homily, as it happens, neatly follows the billboard it replaced only a few days ago–a luxury-car ad showing photos of Infiniti G-35 coupes.
It’s all enough to distract you from the scaffolding that rises above, enclosing a handsome Gothic spire.
“We could whine, or we could get creative,” says the Rev. David M. Rider, the Episcopalian priest in charge of Grace Church. He acknowledges the unseemliness of the commercial arrangement, but he explains that the ads’ proceeds go to fund $2 million in church restorations.r>