Much-photographed 'Ottawa' sign finds permanent ByWard Market home

Ottawa sign
Inspiration Village in the ByWard Market (Photo courtesy the Ottawa 2017 Bureau)

The iconic OTTAWA sign that drew selfie sticks and tourists to the ByWard Market this summer will have a permanent home at the York Street Plaza, now under construction and expected to be completed by the end of the month.

A ceremonial ground-breaking was held at the site at the corner of York Street and Sussex Drive this week, attended by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

The plaza’s key feature will be the giant letters spelling out OTTAWA, which was originally created for Inspiration Village. The Ottawa 2017 attraction drew more than 340,000 people from May to September. The letters ended up being such a draw the city decided to keep them around.

"They proved to be extremely popular. I saw maybe hundreds, if not thousands, of Twitter and Instagram pictures of people posing with the letters," said Watson. "We learned from Inspiration Village people like the fact there was animation on the streets. This (plaza) is a great way to animate the streets."


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A section of York Street is being turned into a 450 square meter asphalt plaza to give a clean backdrop for the letters. There will also be a power supply and moveable seating to accommodate small-scale events. Two new pedestrian crossings across York Street will be created with a wayfinding corridor in between to link the Jeanne d’Arc Court and Clarendon Lane courtyards. The project will cost about $120,000.

The OTTAWA sign has been donated by the Ottawa 2017 organization, but its upkeep as part of the plaza will be the responsibility of the city.

To make room for the Plaza, 22 parking spaces on York Street have been taken out.

"The business community and the BIA wanted to see the OTTAWA letters remain. It was important for us to find a location and attract everyone so we can showcase the best of our city," said Coun. Mathieu Fleury, "We're quite enthusiastic about this additional space."

– By Jesse Cnockaert. This article originally appeared in Metro News.