Vintage Photograph From 1943 Shows Famous "Smoking" Camel Billboard in Times Square

New York, New York. The Spectacular Camel Billboard at Times Square, 1943
New York, New York. The Spectacular Camel Billboard at Times Square, 1943
Photo: History Porn

Perhaps the most famous billboard to ever exist in Times Square, the Camel Cigarettes billboard used steam to fake the appearance of a smoking man.

In 1941 a billboard was installed that marked one of the most well knows advertising campaigns in history; Camel cigarettes. This billboard was apart of Times Square’s history for 26 long years. The billboard displayed a man blowing smoke toward his audience with “Camel” gleaming in bright lights.

For two and a half decades the Camel Cigarette was advertised with two novel billboards that were so clever they easily caught the attention of the passing public. Known as spectaculars, these billboards blew the illusion of a giant smoke ring every four seconds. Steam from a piston-driven diaphragm was forced out of a hole, and this mimicked a person smoking. The spectacular most often photographed was located in New York City's Times Square at 44th Street and Broadway. Some consider this Camel billboard the most famous of all outdoor advertising signs.

With the Camel billboard long gone, here is what it looks like from the same vantage point today.

Matt Coneybeare

Matt Coneybeare

Editor in Chief

Matt enjoys exploring the City's with his partner and son. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time eating, running, and working on cool stuff.

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