Anyone who has been to the American Sign Museum in Camp Washington, Cincinnati already knows that storefront signs can be art. They're also a record of priorities, activities, trends and interests that functions as a sort of community memory. Signs and advertisements constitute an integral part of the streetscape. With that in mind, today’s Metro Crush Monday is dedicated to the amazing storefront signs and neon signs of Los Angeles (a city known in particular for one very big, very famous sign).
We could (and probably will, at some point) talk about how street marketing is changing in the digital age and what role planners should have in ensuring street level marketing is a congruous part of the streetscape but today we’re looking backwards and appreciating how LA’s surviving vintage signs contribute to the city’s charm.
These signs range from flashy hand painted storefronts selling cowboy boots and quinceañera dresses to art deco sculpted metal signs and everything in between. I even saw a great looking Walgreen’s sign improved massively by its wrought iron backdrop.
Walking around I was struck by the quality and diversity of the storefront signs. I was also a little bit saddened that the more modern trend of simplicity in storefront signage has stripped a bit of old-school glitz from our streets.
Preservation of historic signs is a hotly debated issue these days. The question is how to protect and maintain existing signs and how to restore faded, also called ghost, signs. In the Summer of 2017 Winnipeg went as far to hire a designer to digitally recreate signs in a heritage area and project them on buildings. More and more developers and planners are choosing to retain and repair old sign. I’m glad these vibrant colors and flashy fonts still have a home in America's cities and clearly I'm not alone.
Visit The Valley Relics Museum to see a great collection of vintage restaurant signs
Visit Cincinnati’s American Sign Museum to see the largest public collection of historic signs
Follow @RetroscriptLA for a collection of photos highlighting great typography in LA signs.
Shop for linocut reproductions of vintage LA signs
Hunting signs in the wilds of Los Angeles