Chicago is known for its iconic architecture, amazing food, and vibrant arts scene. But there's another aspect of this city's charm that often goes unnoticed - its neon signs. From vintage masterpieces adorning historical buildings to modern interpretations in hip hangouts, neon signs are an integral part of Chicago's cityscape. This article will take you on a radiant journey through Chicago's most captivating neon signs.
1. Neon Signage: An Illuminated History
Neon signs have been a part of urban aesthetics since the early 20th century. Considered a significant part of commercial streetscapes, they add a unique flavor to a city's night-time panorama. Chicago, with its rich architectural history, became a cradle for some of the most fascinating neon signs. From bars to restaurants, theatres to shops, neon signs have been a celebrated feature of the Windy City.
2. Neon Signage: A Dying Art or a Comeback Kid?
Preservation Chicago, an organization focused on conserving architectural heritage, has included neon signs as a crucial part of city's heritage. With many vintage neon signs disappearing from the cityscape, the need to preserve this luminary art form has been recognized. However, the resurgence of neon in modern establishments hints at a possible comeback for these radiant beauties.
3. A Neon Tour: Signature Spots in Chicago
There are several places in Chicago where one can admire the beauty of neon signs. Here are some establishments that deserve a special mention…
Located in West Loop, MONEYGUN is known as much for its chic neon sign as for its variety of beverages. The classic sign featuring mismatched beverages and a pair of red lips sets the mood for a vibrant evening.
3.2 Neon Wilderness
A cocktail bar in Milwaukee Avenue, Neon Wilderness brings the glow of neon to a rustic setting. The fierce buck sign with bold antlers invites guests to a cool, edgy venue.
3.3 Lost Lake
Lost Lake, located in Logan Square, offers an exotic tiki bar experience. The vibrant neon sign against a backdrop of tropical greenery makes for an Instagrammable spot.
3.4 The Hampton Social
An all-white, beach-themed restaurant in West Hubbard Street, The Hampton Social sports a blush pink neon sign amidst a bed of vines. The sign complements the classy East Coast aesthetic of the place.
4. More Neon Spots Worth Visiting
There's more to Chicago's neon landscape than just bars and restaurants. Here are some other noteworthy mentions…
4.1 Superdawg in Norwood Park
A classic example of vintage neon signage, Superdawg's sign is an iconic feature of Norwood Park.
4.2 Rainbo Club in Wicker Park
This establishment's neon sign adds a dash of color to the lively Wicker Park neighborhood.
4.3 Music Box Theatre in Lakeview
The neon sign of the Music Box Theatre is a landmark in the Lakeview neighborhood, drawing moviegoers with its nostalgic charm.
5. Celebrating Personal Stories with Neon
Neon signs are not just for businesses. They have also found a place in people's homes, man caves, and personal spaces. Custom neon signs have become popular gift items, adding a personal touch to celebrations and special occasions.
6. Neon Signage: A Unique Art Form
The art of crafting neon signs involves creativity, precision and a deep understanding of the medium. Artists like Tom, who owns a neon sign shop in Chicago, are dedicated to keeping this art form alive. They take pride in their craft, creating signs that become the talk of the town.
7. Neon Signage: An Affordable Luxury
Contrary to popular belief, neon signs are not as expensive as they seem. They are reasonable and accessible, making them an attractive décor option for businesses and individuals alike.
Neon signs have been a part of Chicago’s landscape for decades, adding a unique luminary dimension to the city’s persona. While preservation efforts are on to conserve vintage signs, new ones continue to light up the cityscape, promising an illuminated future for this radiant art form.
"Neon signs are more than just glowing letters. They are stories told in lights.", Chris Diprose, Voodoo Neon.
Remember, neon signs are not just about lights, they are about the stories they tell, the history they hold, and the artistry they showcase. So, next time you're in Chicago, don't forget to admire these glowing masterpieces. Afterall, they are an integral part of the city's radiant soul.
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