Most Iconic Neon Signs
At Nonstop Signs & Printing, we love sign — particularly the most iconic neon signs! There just something equally retro and futuristic about them. The United States is well-known for its many neon signs. But it is not only in Las Vegas you can find them. Here, we’ll take a look at some of America’s most iconic neon signs (and one Australian one!).
Most Iconic Neon Signs #1: Schrafft’s, Boston
Schrafft’s is a now-defunct company that used to produce candy and chocolate. They were huge in the 60’s and spread to 55 locations. They even became so popular that they managed to have an advertising campaign designed for them by none other than Andy Warhol. Today, Schrafft’s is closed. But you can still catch the iconic neon sign in Boston.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #2: Vegas Vic, Las Vegas
One of the most iconic neon signs in the US is the Vegas Vic. The sign has been greeting visitors to Las Vegas for almost 70 years. Although the sign has moved a few times, you can still find it in downtown Vegas. Vegas Vic is so famous that he was gifted a cousin called Wendover Will. Wendover Will broke the record for the World’s Largest Mechanical Cowboy.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #3: Grain Belt Beer, Minneapolis
Minneapolis is not short on landmarks, and the Grain Belt Beer has been an iconic one since the 40’s. Where it used to light up the night sky with flashing letters, it is no longer functional today. Unfortunately, this means that it may not remain in place for much longer. If you want to find the iconic neon sign a new home, contact the Eastman Family who have put it up for sale.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #4: The Coppertone Girl, Miami
The Coppertone Girl has been around the block more than once. Her first home was the Biscayne Boulevard. That was back in 1959. Since then, she has moved home quite a few times, until she finally moved back to her original location. Although The Coppertone Girl is on our list of iconic neon signs, the neon has been switched out with LED (don’t tell anyone!).
Most Iconic Neon Signs #5: The Skipping Girl Sign, Abbotsford, Australia
The United States is of course not the only country with iconic neon signs. Down Under we can find The Skipping Girl Sign, AKA Little Audrey. She was the mascot for a vinegar manufacturer by the name of Nycander. They, unfortunately, went out of business in 68, and Little Audrey was torn down. Locals were so upset that a new Little Audrey was built just two years later.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #6: Made in Oregon sign, Portland
This iconic neon sign has undergone several changes throughout the years. In 1941, the sign advertised white satin sugar. A decade later, the sign showed the entire state of Oregon is filled up with sugar. Another decade later, the sign advertised sportswear. It also had a Christmas makeover that year, and every subsequent year. In the 70’s, the company owning the sign folded. Two decades later, another company took over and added the now famous Made in Oregon text. Today, it has been abandoned and might be torn down.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #7: Westinghouse sign, Pittsburgh
The Westinghouse sign is probably amongst the most intricate signs on this list. To ensure that passers-by knew whose sign it was, it included no less than nine of the same logos. Each logo, in turn, had ten independent elements that could light up on their own. Unfortunately, the building and the sign along with it was torn down in 1998. Today, Pirates’ PNC Park occupies the space.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #8: Magikist sign, Chicago
When it comes to a creative marketing campaign, Magikist is a company that made headlines. Their premise was simple: giant neon lips. That’ll get people’s attention. And they did. The neon lips became some of Chicago’s more well-known landmarks until the 90’s. Today, they have all been removed slowly but surely. Bring them back, Chicago!
Most Iconic Neon Signs #9: Reno Arch, Reno, Nevada
The oldest sign on our list is the famous Reno Arch. It was built as far back as 1899. Back then, of course, neon wasn’t a thing yet. In 1927, the Reno Arch was updated, and the neon was brought in. Since then, the famous arch has undergone several updates — six of them, in fact. As with the Coppertone Girl, the neon has now been switched out with LED.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #10: The Travelers Insurance umbrella, Des Moines
Since 1963, there has been a giant umbrella sticking out over the Des Moines horizon. The Travelers Insurance umbrella is no less than 40 foot long and quickly became a famous landmark in Des Moines. Unfortunately, the company that originally commissioned it abandoned it. It wasn’t until 2005 that a company by the name of Graham Group picked up the slack and renovated it.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #11: Electric City, Scranton
While Scranton is today probably most known for the hit series The Office, there are other reasons to visit the small town. They were quite ahead of their time and erected the Electric City sign in 1910 before neon was even a thing. Mounted atop of the Scranton Electric Building, it has been used to promote electric street cars. It was recently restored in 2004.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #12: The Stinker Station, Twin Falls
Farris Lind opened The Stinker Station gas station franchise in 1936 and quickly became successful. Mr. Lind undercut the competition by a lot, which is part of his success story. He came up with the idea of a neon skunk, which quickly became one of the iconic neon signs of Twin Falls. Most of them are gone now, but the biggest one can still be found on Kimberly Road.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #13: The East Gate, Los Angeles
In 1938, a group of Chinese Americans was displaced due to the building of Union Station. An enclave was built to house them, and a Hollywood set designer helped decorate it. The East Gate is the entrance to a small mall, which today is Old Chinatown Plaza. It is quite a sight to see and has enough lights to illuminate all of Chinatown.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #14: Leon’s Frozen Custard, Milwaukee
Have you ever watched the TV series Happy Days? Remember Al’s Diner? Then you will love the Leon’s Frozen Custard sign. Rumor has it that Al’s Diner was modeled after this sign. Now, this is a subject of massive dispute in Milwaukee, so please keep us out of any arguments. Rumor also has it that the burgers served at this place are fantastic — so there’s that.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #15: Superdawg Drive-in, Chicago
As opposed to most iconic neon signs on our list, the owner of this one is still in business. Superdawg Drive-In has been serving delicious food since 1948 and has a cult-like following. Just reading some of the reviews will make you want to jump on the first place to Chi-town. Oh, and they have an iconic neon sign that has quickly become a Chicago landmark.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #16: The Seven Dwarfs, Wheaton
As with the mythological creatures depicted in The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, The Seven Dwarfs sign is durable. Several tubes have burned out, and yet it still stands. The Seven Dwarfs Restaurant is, as the name implies, a Snow White-themed restaurant. The fun doesn’t stop at the iconic neon sign, but murals can be found on the inside of the building.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #17: The Elephant Car Wash, Seattle
It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Instead, it’s time to talk about the big pink elephant in Seattle. Needle Tower is far from the only landmark in the city. The big pink elephant has been the mascot of the original Elephant Car Wash. Even though the company has now spread to nine locations across Seattle, the elephant still marks the original one.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #18: El Rancho Grande sign, Tulsa
One of the famous neon signs that can be spotted on Route 66 is that of El Rancho Grande Mexican Restaurant. It has been a fixture since 1953 and has helped light the way for the eatery’s customers. It fell into disrepair until the city of Tulsa decided to renovate it in 2009 as part of the Modern Tulsa campaign.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #19: Western Hills Motel, Flagstaff
Continuing along Route 66, drivers quickly discovered that it became quite dark. Finding a place to stay for the night was not an easy task. Fortunately, Western Hills Motel discovered neon around the same time. Their sign quite clearly spells out the word MOTEL, and lo and behold: you can still stay the night there if it’s getting late.
Most Iconic Neon Signs #20: Crescent Bowl, Bowling Green
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that the name of this town is Bowling Green. Now, the city is filled with bowling alleys. Of these, Crescent Bowl stands out, as it features one of the most iconic neon signs in the area. When you visit, pay attention to the parking lot when you leave the car.
Want some signs of your own?
Granted, neon is an acquired taste. Maybe you don’t want neon for yourself. But no matter the occasion, there’s a sign for all.
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