Show Us The Most Incredible Neon Signs

In the 100+ years since their invention, neon signs have gone from being mere advertising tools, to magnificent works of art, many of which can now be found hanging on museum walls. In Glendale, California, the Museum of Neon Art plays host hundreds of signs from the past and present, all with their own unique gas-filled curvatures and illuminations. In God’s Own Junkyard located in London, England, neon signs of all shapes, sizes, and verbiage adorn the walls and ceilings. Stepping inside the warehouse is like entering a technicolored dreamscape. However, as technology advances, so do the ways we advertise. These gorgeous manifestations of gas and electricity that once lit up Broadway, are slowly becoming mere relics. Many now reside in junky boneyards, left to make that curious traveler wonder, “what was it like when the gas was flowing?” Help us reignite that neon spark by showing us the most amazing, intricate, beautiful, and wacky neon signs you’ve ever come across.


(Image: Luca Bravo/Public Domain)

In the thread below, tell us about your favorite neon wonder, where it is, and why you find it so irresistible? It could be a sign from your local diner, one you came across in a museum, or a hidden gem you found during your travels. Is there a story behind its creation or destruction? What makes it special? Be sure to include any pictures you might have as well. Your response may be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura. Now, let’s see those enchanting examples of neon signage!

4 Likes

Centro Cultural Tlatelolco in Mexico City is quite plain and a bit reminiscent of the NYC U.N. building’s blockiness (just way smaller) during the day.
MX MM CENTRO CULTURAL UNIVERSITARIO TLATELOLCO by Milton Martínez, en Flickr

But at night, it (literally) shines.

Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco by The Lost Astoria :peace_symbol:, en Flickr

I like that it did not necessarily go for folklorism as many other major artworks in the country, but it instead has a more international flair with the flowery patterns inspired by Islamic art. The magenta-blue combo is quite striking too.

11 Likes

And you are 1sttt!!! :beers: What a stunning display, thanks for posting both really shows of the detail and intricacies.

First one that comes to mind is one I grew up with, the Citgo (Gasoline) sign in Kenmore Square, Boston. I love any animated neon sign though.

citgo

7 Likes

I don’t know about World Class, but here are some of idiosyncratic local favorites.


Arsenal Bar, West Los Angeles


Encino Park Liquor, with bonus points for partial malfunction.


Corbin Bowl, Tarzana

7 Likes

Evidently Warsaw, Poland is the queen city of neon signs. There’s even a Neon Museum there, which has mixed reviews and may be more fun to try to find than the actual displays. Private advertisements and state sponsored neon sculptures abounded in the pre-WWII, cold war and post-cold war eras.

This article gives a good overview of it all, and links to a couple of films. One is an animated recreation of historic signs, basically drawing over old photographs; the other is a trailer for Eric Bednarski’s film, Neon

4 Likes

My all time favorite sits atop a mountain in Roanoke VA. The Mill Mountain Star AKA the Roanoke Star has 2000’ of neon and is visible miles away at night.

9 Likes

The Neon Bone Yard in Las Vegas, where all neon goes to die.


8 Likes

How have I missed this being from Virginia and in Roanoke, but then again I’ve never been in the city at night. Will certainly have to check this out when I visit. Thanks for the VA Love :fist:

1 Like


I’ve been snapping photos of neon signs since about 1981 (and before that, I was sketching signs along Midwest highways & byways). This photo is from 2006 in Vancouver, BC and is emblematic of my photo collection of signs, architecture and coffee shops - Neon Java.

9 Likes

When driving from our small Michigan town into Chicago, I always knew we’d hit the city when I saw the Magikist sign.

Also, I lived in Lubbock, Texas, a dry town, for three years. All the liquor stores queued up on a frontage road along US 87 south of town, an oasis for a single 20-something a time zone from “home.”

8 Likes

Sauer’s Vanilla sign on Broad Street in Richmond VA
sauer_s_vanilla_0
At night, it’s animated–
(YouTube)

6 Likes

I made sure I visited when I was in LV in 2002!

1 Like

That shot from outside Lubbock is the way neon signs should be; a whole line of them, animated, and with incandescent bulbs mixed in to really set the neon off. Monolithic neon signs are fun and all, but really, they’re herd animals.

2 Likes

This is a well known rest stop north of Oklahoma City. Located in the town of Arcadia, OK and is a Rout 66 landmark. image image

9 Likes

So cool!

MY HOMEE!! (well petersburg to be exact) I love this sign. Its super iconic to the city and has been there forever. Thanks for sharing :beers:

1 Like

The Neon Museum in Las Vegas is the best place to see classic/historic neon signs.
https://www.neonmuseum.org

1 Like


Historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee is home to some of my favorite neon signage. Neon has a way of representing history, authenticity, fun, and kitsch, so it is fitting that so many of these signs illuminate Beale, “Home of the Blues.” From BB King’s Blues Club to the home of the 100-year-old-grease burger (Dyer’s), Memphis’ oldest store (A. Schwab) to a bar with pet goats (Silky O’Sullivan’s), you can be sure that you’ll find something interesting inside when you follow Beale’s neon signs.

BealeSt2

7 Likes

I wish more views like this were abundant in all the cities. This adds so much color to the area and makes one feel more welcomed. Plus all the signs are so beautiful no matter what they advertise. Ed

1 Like