Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Clifton's Cafeteria--Those Days are Long Gone

Clifton's Cafeteria in Los Angeles
The days of the hometown cafeteria are over, I mean...well...with the exception of Hometown Buffet, which is nothing like the old-style privately owned cafeterias of yesteryear.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Signs Immune to Destruction

Delmar Movie Palace is closed, but sign remains   Photo by Matthew Bamberg
What makes one neon sign immune to the wrecking ball and another one still left standing is a matter of fate and luck. Suburban areas that are quickly gentrified are the first to see the signs go.

In Miami, for example, a few lucky areas have been preserved as districts where both the architecture and signage has been preserved. But outside these areas major rebuilding has taken place without regard to preservation.

The city of Paris saves just about every sign and building ever erected, while the city of London does not.

World globalization and corporate control of the land in much of the world is bad news for old neon and politics plays a major role in any preservation program.

In the city of Los Angeles the Neon Museum (MONA) hosts a program to save and repair the neon so that the signs of yesteryear still glow.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Road Runner

Road Runner Motel in Gallup, New Mexico  Photo by Matthew Bamberg

Who doesn't love a roadrunner. Throughout the Western United States, the bird is revered for it's sleek body and long tail. Homage to the lovely bird exists in signage in a few spots of the region.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Steel and Neon—The Makings of a Sign

Hill Top Motel, Kingman, AZ
Neon’s kinetic radiance turned the great sign of the mid-century into a symbol of American optimism that spread throughout the world. The reddish orange glow in the word Hill Top above was achieved in a vacuum discharge tube. The makings of a sign begin with displacing air in tubes with neon.

First, the sign maker bends the tubes, a tricky, yet artistic task as each letter must conform to the other and like letters must be bent in exactly the same shape.

To make the neon glow, an electric current must flow thorough the tube. The colors depend on the mixture of gasses inside the tube, usually neon, argon and mercury.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Blue Skies Trailer Park Sign at an Angle

Blue Skies Trailer Park sign near Santa Barbara, CA   Photo by Matthew Bamberg
One of the coolest neon signs that remains standing in Southern California. Anybody know the history of this one?