Thursday, February 28, 2019

Neon News & Links / February 2019 Edition

• Talkin' neon, in SF! I'll be presenting a status check on the state of New York neon for this year's Neon Speaks Festival & Symposium in San Francisco on Saturday, April 27, 2019.  

• "Neon Lights Making a Comeback as Smaller Businesses Desire Unique Signs" - a nice write-up by Scripps Networks reporter Chris Welch on the output of neon shops today.

 Not neon but still fantastically cool: via the Uni-Watch blog, in East Midwood, a great midcentury porcelain enamel storefront was recently unearthed with the removal of newer signage. Alas, if you missed it, you missed it: it was quickly ruined upon seeing the light of day. 


 From the wonderful Ephemeral NY blog, the following: 

    > An homage to the late great Chock-Full-O-Nuts coffee shop chain and its bygone New York storefronts.  

(Ephemeral New York)

    > An appreciation of surviving vintage drugstore neon in Brooklyn and Manhattan  

(Ephemeral New York)

 The inimitable Debra Jane Seltzer has been status-checking the historic signs and roadside architecture she's photographed across the country, and the state of our old signs is not good.  As she puts it, "what shall we conclude from all this devastation?"  Here are direct links to a few of a dozen or so entries she's posted in this series over the past month or so.

    > Updates on theatres, car dealers and "ship buildings"  

    > Gas Station Updates  
    > Signs  
    > More signs   
    > And still more signs.  

(Debra Jane Seltzer)

• Meanwhile, from the SHORPY blog, a look at some old signs across the USA - before they were old:

    > Fayetteville, 1941 
    > US 1 in Jessup, Maryland
    > Swing Street, Manhattan, 1948
    > Human Freaks, 1941 
    > Chicago, 1941
    > Brattleboro, VT, 1941
    > Childersburg, Alabama, 1941

(William Gottlieb, Library of Congress / Shorpy)

 Some new-New York neon: Russ & Daughters, erstwhile institution of Manhattan's Lower East Side, has opened up a branch at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

(Grub Street)

 And finally, some sad news from Jersey: Elmwood Park's sprawling, historic Marcal Paper plant burned to the ground in a spectacular fire in January, taking with it hundreds of jobs, an important complex of historic industrial buildings, and the greatest commercial neon installations in the entire state.   

(Carla Niutta /

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Neon News & Links / January 2019 Edition

(Tudor City Confidential)

• Via the Tudor City Confidential blog, everything you ever wanted to know about Tudor City's giant ghost sign over East 42nd Street. 


• Talkin' neon on TV!  In this short piece with NY1's Michael Scotto featuring sign shop Let There Be Neon.  

(Laumeier Scuplture Park)

• In St. Louis, an exhibit of preserved neon signs will light up Laumeier Scuplture Park - hurry, it's only up through January 13, 2019.  More here.    

(Steve Fitch via AtlasObscura)

• At AtlasObscura, a photographic tribute to neon motel signs by Steve Fitch, and an interview with the photographer.  

• From the Ephemeral NY blog, a remembrance of Manhattan's Lascoff Pharmacy, an Upper East Side institution for more than a century until it closed a few years ago.   

(Daniel Weeks via the West Side Rag)

• In case you missed it (as I did), a wayback machine story from 2011: photographer Daniel Weeks' 1982 survey of Upper West Side storefronts (via the WestSideRag). 

(Rob Yasinsac)

• Upstate in Albany, it's lights-out for one of New York State's greatest storefront signs as Lombardo's Italian Restaurant, a south-side landmark for more than 100 years, closed at the end of 2018.  

• From Curbed: "There may be no designer who’s left so deep an imprint on downtown Austin as the antiques dealer turned neon restorer turned neon artist Evan Voyles."   

(Hiroko Masuike / NY Times)

• Around the five boroughs, a mystery snitch has been anonymously ratting-out code-violating signs - some of them decades old - prompting a hellfire of steep fines for mom-and-pops all over town, many of whom have forfeited their old storefront signs in the process.   

(It's Nice That)

• "Jane Dickson in Times Square" - a new book featuring the work of artist Jane Dickson, whose photographs and paintings capture Times Square's glory days of grit perhaps more vividly than anything else you can fit on a coffee table.   

(NY Post)

• On the subject of Times Square neon, restaurateur Shelly Fireman’s revived Bond 45 offers a tangible tribute to one of New York’s best neon storefronts.  

(Jeremiah's Vanishing NY)

• McHale’s hide and seek: a chunk of a much-lamented neon storefront sign surfaced briefly on eBay, only to vanish again into the ether. 

• Via AtlasObscura, a panorama of marquee neon nationwide.  

• Check out these wild neon-like gifs from Japanese graphic designer Okuyama Taiki.  

(Ephemeral NY)

• At the Ephemeral NY blog, an homage to Brooklyn’s Ghostmobile neon

(Jeremiah's Vanishing NY)

• Hold onto your horn rims:  at long last, the NYC Municipal Archives has posted the city's 1940s tax photos online, unleashing a veritable street view of the city as it looked at what was probably its neon heyday. 

• If you missed it, you missed it - last year's "Signs of Life" photo exhibit at the Perfect Exposure Gallery in Alhambra, CA. 

(Russell Lee / Library of Congress, via Shorpy)

• Some Shorpy Specials: 

     > New Bedford Noir, 1940  

     > Cascade neon, 1941   

     > Arizona neon, 1940  

     > Twin Falls neon, 1941  

     > Texas hotel neon, 1939 

     > Big (Neon) City, 1941 


• Highline neon:  if you haven't yet, check out “Agora,” an outdoor exhbition of neon and other illuminated installations on the High Line through March.  More here at the New Yorker.