Sign History Category
Ballparks, Scoreboards and Signage: History at Two Baseball Parks
by Catherine R, May 15th with 0 comments
Is there a better place to be on a sunny, spring afternoon, than a baseball park? Doubtful. Before baseball stadiums were named after their huge corporate sponsors they were named after their owners—independent businessmen who invested in baseball for the love of the game. Now you’ll find big stadiums with big names: Citi, Chase, AT&T, Minute Maid… even Petco Park! These monster parks have jumbotrons, fancy dugouts and luxury suites. But the classic, old baseball parks will always represent the history of the great American sport.Continue reading...
Top 10 Signs You Found Roadside America
by Nelson James, April 26th with 1 comments
America, land of the free and home of the brave! Also, home of the hamburger, baseball and the oddity that is the roadside attraction. From Route 66 to the backwoods of the South, America’s roads, freeways and byways are dotted with attractions, signs and buildings that make our country great. Here are the Top 10 Signs you found roadside America.Continue reading...
An Interview with the Society for Commercial Archeology
by Nelson James, April 25th with 2 comments
A few days ago we posted my interview with Danielle Kelly from The Neon Museum in Las Vegas. During the interview she mentioned that I must reach out to the Society for Commercial Archeology. She said if you love the older, lesser know signs and buildings of America’s roadsides and are interested in helping preserve them, those are the guys to talk to. So I did just that and they didn’t disappoint.
When I spoke to Ralph Wilcox, the Society for Commercial Archeology’s secretary, I envisioned this Indiana Jones-esque group of individuals combing through dilapidated commercial buildings in search of relics from the past. OK, so I over romanticized a little bit, but in truth the SCA is the largest national organization devoted to the buildings, artifacts, structures, signs, and symbols of the 20th-century commercial landscape.Continue reading...
Navigating America: How Traffic Signs Help Us Find our Way
by Nelson James, April 24th with 0 comments
Millions of Americans spend a considerable amount of time behind the wheel each year. In fact, 8.1 percent of U.S. workers who worked outside of the home had at least an hour-long commute in 2011, according to U.S. Census numbers.
Even though biking and walking are popular alternative forms of transportation for some, our vehicles are still the go-to method for getting around town. Get in, sit down, buckle in and fire up your smart phone’s navigation to figure out how to get to your office on the first day of your new job. Technology can definitely help us find our way on the road, but those green and white signs above the freeway are about as certain as death and taxes. Have you ever wondered who designed those, and why each traffic sign tends to look the same no matter where you go in the country?Continue reading...
Updated: Interview With Bryan McCormick of Vegas Vernacular
by Nelson James, April 23rd with 1 comments
Update: 4/22/2013: While I was attending the 2013 International Sign Association’s Sign Expo in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of sitting down with Bryan over lunch to discuss the latest happenings with the Vegas Vernacular. It had been about 6 months since our first interview and I wanted to get an update on the organization, what they are currently working on and what’s next……oh and to get my print of the Desert Moon Motel I ordered!
Although I loved meeting Bryan at the art exhibit back in September of 2012, this time around was even better. We went to an incredible little place to eat, called EAT, in old downtown and just talked signage. It was the first time I had ever just walked around that area and it really gave me an appreciation for what Bryan and his team are trying to document. Once you get away from the Strip, you realize that a whole other world exists. Just walking and driving down Freemont Street – away from the tourist traps – you quickly realize what Vegas was truly about. It’s not about the massive Casinos. It’s about the hundreds of family owned motels and businesses that lined the streets. Each one with a unique story. Each one on the verge of disappearing.
Although they have accumulated around 50,000 images, there is still more to be done. Much of their current projects are based on immediate necessity. Not only are the smaller motels and building being closed down, they are being torn down. Bryan said that just knowing what properties are next is difficult. Then trying to get in to photograph them can be an even bigger challenge.
But, aside from the constant need to document the signs, Bryan and his team are right in the middle of creating a platform to catalog and display the images. The best part of the platform, they want to make it available to other organizations, in other cities, to allow them to accomplish the same goal as the Vegas Vernacular. A national platform for all to use as inspiration and education. They have also spent some time trying to track down the artists, like “King” Richard Harris, who actually created the hand painted signage. Their personal stories are as much a part of the dialogue as the signs they created!
For the most part, things continue at breakneck speed for the Vegas Vernacular and the ever changing landscape of Las Vegas sure keeps Bryan on his toes. Let’s just hope he is quick enough to document it before it’s gone!Continue reading...
The Spotlight Shines on Vegas’ Neon Museum
by Nelson James, April 23rd with 1 comments
Born From Necessity
As I sat across from Danielle Kelly, the executive director of The Neon Museum, I almost forgot that we were discussing old, beat up, and sometimes forgotten signs. In fact, I felt that we could have been talking about a recently discovered Picasso or Van Gogh original. That’s how passionate Danielle is about her beloved museum and the works of art that she and her team painstakingly curates.
Founded in 1996, The Neon Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and restoring iconic Las Vegas signage to display and educate future generations on the area’s unique art form. But, according to Danielle, the path to what visitors see today when they come to the Neon Museum is a far cry from where they started.Continue reading...
Booze, Boarding and Brothels: Signs of the Renaissance
by Catherine R, April 22nd with 0 comments
The Renaissance brought the world da Vinci, Michelangelo, Machiavelli… and signage. In England and France, while cathedrals stretched toward the sky and great works of art were being created, kings began to regulate signage; not on behalf of the people, but on behalf of the royal coffers.
The Sign That Drove President Wilson Crazy (and Changed the World!)
by Catherine R, March 20th with 0 comments
Signs are a powerful form of communication. One single sign has the ability to make a statement for an entire group of people, and do so silently. In 1917, a protest sign lent a voice to millions of women, embarrassed and outraged a U.S. President and ultimately changed the world.Continue reading...
Mountain Monograms: Signs of School Spirit
by Catherine R, March 4th with 0 comments
Mountain monograms perch on the hillsides above communities all over the country. They occasionally denote towns or neighborhoods, but mostly they stand as beacons of school spirit and pride for high schools, colleges and universities.Continue reading...
The First Pawn Stars: The Medici Family and Their Secret Sign
by Catherine R, February 26th with 0 comments
Symbols can be powerful signs that speak volumes without using words. You might pass a symbol-sign every day for years without knowing what it means. But for those who do know, the symbol identifies an institution that offers needed services. On the outside of many pawn shops, you’ll find a symbol. A secret symbol that dates back to fifteenth century Florence. A symbol with a shady past.Continue reading...
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