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The Plaza is Happy People

The Plaza is Happy People Smileys Button Museum
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The Plaza is Happy People button back Smileys Button Museum
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Traditional yellow smiley face with black text above and below the face

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This button is from the Plaza Hotel. In a 1972 New York Magazine article reviewing the hotel’s new restaurant “The Green Tulip” the writer refers to “a bowl of yellow buttons that stands alongside the mints at the door, the buttons bearing a familiar stylized smile and the slogan, ’The Plaza is happy people’” as one of the many “mistakes” the new restaurant has made. The slogan is also mentioned in a 1971 Sales Management book.

This button is a variation on the classic yellow smiley face that is comprised of a yellow circle, two black dots for eyes and a black arc ending in serifs for a mouth. It  was designed in 1963 by by commercial artist, Harvey Ross Ball. Ball was commissioned by The State Mutual Life Insurance Company to create a happy face to raise the morale of their employees. His version was created in 10 minutes. The design was printed onto more than 50 million buttons. Neither Ball nor the company copyrighted this smiley, so it was continually used by other businesses in their promotions.

The design and concept is quite simple and was definitely used before Ball’s 1963 version. However his has become the most iconic. Variations have been used for advertising campaigns and in popular culture ever since.


Wolfe, Linda (1972, January 10) The Plastic Tulip. New York Magazine, Page 62-63. Retrieved from

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