• Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no echo chambers. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! You can also register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

Is Kitsch Cool?

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,149
Points
27
I came across this neon sign site last week and I must say that I find all those neon signs kitschy and cool.

http://www.dreamroad.us/oldneon/oldsigns.html



They are so Art Deco! Maybe that's why I love them so much. I love Art Deco, and anything that is vintage neon gets a thumbs up from me! However, sometimes I think it has nothing to do with Art Deco - those signs are just cool! Is it just me, or are there others out there who love kitschy neon signs?

As an aside, does anyone know of any examples of neon sign preservation efforts? I would imagine there are some cities that consider these signs to be an asset that make their community stand out.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I have to agree, I like the large neon signs from the 40's and 50's. We have one in the City that if it ever goes, and it may go soon will cause an uproar as everyone has memories of the bar associated with it. On the other hand I see no purpose and dislike the really small "OPEN" ones that have sprung up lately in our area.

The most famous neon sign in Canada has to be Sam the Record Man's spinning disks on Yonge Street. If they ever go the Yonge Street Strip will have lost something important.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
donk said:

The most famous neon sign in Canada has to be Sam the Record Man's spinning disks on Yonge Street. If they ever go the Yonge Street Strip will have lost something important.
They're still there...for now. Sam's son bought the business back when it went into bankruptcy. Who knows how long it will last though. Those signs don't have the same without the competing A&A Record shop sign up the street...
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
here's a good article on the glorification of kitsch. I promise i'm going out with a camera this weekend to get a picture of this sign.

http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/business/2801517.htm

the article was in a newspaper from mississippi of all places. I keep thinking of some poor old guy trying to force out "schuylkill" or "bala cynwyd"

i think the welsh settled here just to one up the dutch with their place names - bellmawr, bryn mawr, bryn athyn, llanerch
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,195
Points
26
Hey Alan, what about the Jackrabbit Bean sign in Saginaw? I can't remember where it is, except that it is along the river on the west side. There was a huge fundraising effort to restore the sign a couple years ago. I remember they had bunny beanie babies, and big fiberglass ones in Hoyt Library.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,889
Points
38
A sentimental favorite of mine:



Recently saved from demolition....and restored. Laconia, NH.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,149
Points
27
SW MI Planner said:
Hey Alan, what about the Jackrabbit Bean sign in Saginaw? I can't remember where it is, except that it is along the river on the west side. There was a huge fundraising effort to restore the sign a couple years ago. I remember they had bunny beanie babies, and big fiberglass ones in Hoyt Library.
Yeah, that thing is great! It holds a special place in my family's heart, especially since our last name is "Bean." I pass by that sign everyday on my way to work. Four years ago, we all got some stuffed bunnies with the "Bean" logo on it for Christmas. I guess my mom helped raise money to turn that sign back on.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
Does the Big Blue Bug count?




Off Topic - Big Blue Bug Trivia:

The Big Blue Bug makes an appearance in a home concert video by what rock band?
 
Last edited:

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I dig the kitschy signs... but I rarely like the buildings they are attached to.

Trust me... this is nowhere as cool looking in real life. This building is run down and the boot is hideous these days with parking right up next to it. No little tile plazas.



This is my all-time favorite sign from downtown Seattle (which is unfortunately located in a huge expanse of asphalt at a corner just begging for some type of interesting building):



Another famous Seattle landmark at a prominent corner (notice the ugly cyclone fencing and barbed wire)...




It's just too bad that people can't learn how to upgrade their property and still have the groovy kitsch.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Repo Man said:
My favorite:



If I can find a nighttime photo, it is classic.
Repo - Did you know they are tearing it down ro build a Walgreens?

A Crying Shame.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
Chet said:
Repo - Did you know they are tearing it down ro build a Walgreens?

A Crying Shame.
*Sniff*...yeah, I read that a few months back. That is where I snagged the photo from.

I don't go there that often, maybe once every 2 years, but is the one bar that you can go to with a 99 percent gaurantee that you will not see an attractive woman inside. It is truly a professional drinkers tavern.

Here is a great article on the bar, the sign, and historic preservation

Here is the sign at night:


...and some patrons. Should this be in the Rugged thread instead?
 

Nancy

Cyburbian
Messages
22
Points
2
neon signs

The recent issue of Smithsonian magazine has a whole section on Wildwood, NJ (a personal family favorite) that is working hard to save their signs and architecture. Check it out!
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,841
Points
59
On their own, those old signs are cool. The best are works of art; far more interesting than internally illuminated plastic panels mounted in a frame and hoisted up on a tall stick. However, when EVERY building has a gaudy, oversized sign ... ugh. You don't notice individual signs; you just see an ugly jumble of clutter.

I'm convinced the context of a sign is a factor in determining its "coolness" as well. Let's take this sign on the Elmwood Strip in Buffalo.

1elmwood_109-med.jpg

Ooooh ... Artvoice. An alternative, trendy weekly freesheet. Folks I knew loved the sign when it went up. I told 'em if it advertised anything else, they wouldn't be saying the same thing. Let's play around with Photoshop.



Oh, so now the sign's not so cool, huh? The size and shape haven't changed. It's still a big, ugly sign in an inappropriate location.

The Artvoice sign was illegal when it went up, but the community's tolerance towards the content, and the resulting apathy from the City, allowed it to stay. What if the illegal sign advertised something that wasn't so hip or trendy in the eyes of those who would see the sign?
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,149
Points
27
Dan said:
I'm convinced the context of a sign is a factor in determining its "coolness" as well.
Dan, this is an excellent point - cool can turn to clutter in an instant. I'm a fan of big bright neon signs along suburban strip commercial corridors. To me, this seems like an appropriate context. (By the way, what happend to the Bill Clinton in the Photoshopped image?)

Nancy's Smithsonian article, "Doo Wop by the Sea," can be forund at:

http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issues03/jun03/wildwoods.html

 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,853
Points
39
I remember an "OK Used Cars" sign in Winter Park FL many years ago. Must visit to see if it's still there.

We just returned from a trip to GA where we skipped the interstates and drove on 2-lane rural roads. We saw lots of examples of old neon/illuminated signs from way back. Unfortunately, most of them were attached to crumbling motels/gas stations/restaurants that went by the wayside long ago. A shame.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,149
Points
27
Paintings By Bruce

Yes, this guy is serious!

http://www.paintingsbybruce.com/index.htm

"As for the telephone poles, they are ubiquitous and so familiar that most of us simply don't see them, yet if one takes a moment to really look at them there's a lot to see. They come in an endless variety of crossbeam configurations, with different types and sizes of insulators, turnbuckles, transformers, streetlights, footpegs for the linemen, coils of coaxial cable, and mysterious devices whose purpose is unknown to me..."





 
Top