The United States is home to an array of timeless symbols, but perhaps none as visually striking as the neon sign. These glowing beacons of Americana have stood the test of time, each with a unique story to tell. Let's embark on a journey across the country, exploring 12 of the most iconic neon signs that have etched their imprint in the heart of American culture.
1. Scranton's "Electric City" Sign: A Beacon of Progress
Located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the Electric City sign is a testament to the city's innovative spirit. Erected in 1910 to commemorate Scranton's pioneering adoption of electric streetcars, the sign illuminates the cityscape with a nostalgic charm. After a period of darkness, the sign was revived twice in 2004 and 2014, now gleaming with energy-efficient LED bulbs.
2. Portland's White Stag: A Symbol of Resilience
Perched above the Burnside Bridge in Portland, Oregon, the White Stag sign has donned various advertisements since its installation in 1940. Despite dark periods and threats of dismantlement, the sign's endearing presence led to its preservation. Today, owned by the city, the sign simply reads "Portland, Oregon," a radiant emblem of the city's spirit.
3. Radio City Music Hall: A Star-Studded Marquee
The signage for Radio City Music Hall is an integral part of New York City's nightscape. This grand marquee, soaring seven stories high, has been a prominent feature of the venue since 1932. Its radiance not only attracts Broadway enthusiasts but also adds to the city's luminous charm.
4. Pike Place Market: A Historic Luminary
Overlooking Seattle's bustling streets, the Pike Place Market sign stands as a beacon for one of America's oldest continuously operating farmers' markets. Installed in 1927, it's one of the West Coast's earliest neon signs, shedding light on a vibrant marketplace teeming with vendors.
5. "Lass in the Glass": Famous Neon Bar Sign
In Chinook, Montana the Elk Bar has it's famous "Lass in a glass" neon sign outside the Elk Bar. The woman is laid back and sitting in a ggiant cocktail glass. This iconic neon sign is famous for a reason. Multi-color, with green, white, yellow, red and blue neon.
6. Baltimore's Domino Sugars: Sweetening the Skyline
The Domino Sugars sign has been a glittering jewel in Baltimore's Inner Harbor for almost seven decades. With its capital "D" standing at a staggering 40 feet, this sign illuminates the night with a warm, orange-red glow, symbolizing Baltimore's industrial legacy.
7. Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas: A City's Silent Watcher
Perched high on the entrance to Las Vegas, Nevada the Welcome to Las Vegas neon sign has been a city symbol since 1959. Installed by Western Neon this sign has stood as one of the most iconic neon signs in the World.
8. Circus Liquor: LA's Unsettling Icon
Dominating Burbank Boulevard in North Hollywood, the Circus Liquor sign is an unforgettable sight. Boasting a 32-foot clown with a menacing sneer, this sign has become an unforgettable emblem of Los Angeles, even making a cameo in the classic movie, Clueless.
9. Vegas Vic: The Cowboy Who Never Sleeps
In Las Vegas, the neon sign capital of the world, one sign stands out from the rest: Vegas Vic. This animated cowboy has been greeting tourists with a friendly "Howdy Pardner" since 1951, becoming an enduring symbol of the city's vibrant nightlife.
10. Montreal's Farine Five Roses: A Flourishing Legacy
The Farine Five Roses sign in Montreal, Canada, has been a city landmark since 1948. Although it underwent changes following a language law implementation in 1977, the sign remains a beloved symbol of the city's industrial heritage.
11. Blue Swallow Motel: The World's Best Neon Motel Entrance
In Tucumcari, New Mexico, the Blue Swallow Neon Sign at the entrance to the Blue Swallow Motel is one of the most iconic entrance's to a building in the World. Erected in the 1950's this neon sign was built by the owners of the Blue Swallow motel.
12. Holbrook's Wigwam Motel: A Glimpse of the Past
In Holbrook, Arizona, the Wigwam Motel sign invites Route 66 travelers to sleep in a wigwam. As one of the three remaining Wigwam Motels, this neon sign is a captivating reminder of a bygone era, a nostalgic beacon guiding travelers along the iconic Mother Road.
Neon signs, in their glowing grandeur, are more than just advertisements. They are cultural markers, steeped in history, and reflective of the cities they illuminate. As we continue to journey through the digital age, these signs remain steadfast, their vibrant hues a testament to America's colorful past.
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