When neon was introduced in the USA during the 1920s, business owners were very quick to see how useful it would be in promoting their businesses. With their bright, sleek lights that instantly grabbed the attention of passers-by, businesses throughout America had to have signs made out this amazing new light source. Overnight, auto dealers, soda shops, department stores, theaters, nightclubs and more began decorating their buildings in neon lights and installing neon signs over their doorways.
All this widespread usage of neon led to it becoming part of American pop culture and a part of the American landscape. Whenever we think about mid-20th century urban Americana, it’s impossible not to think about the city streets of that time being doused in various shades of neon. No matter whether it’s the neon signs and billboards that advertised all the different businesses located along Route 66 or a detective from a 1940s or 50s film noir movie slinking down a street in some shady neighborhood lined with jazz clubs and their blinking neon signs, neon played a great role in defining 20th century America.
These days, LED technology has largely become the norm in signage, but there are still many businesses in the USA that can’t resist the aesthetic and vintage appeal of neon signs. And of course, many of the neon signs from the last century are still in use today in some form or another. Some are still advertising the businesses they were created for all those decades ago. Others have been created by today’s neon artists carrying on the traditions their predecessors started some 70-80 years ago.
For more information about any of the (currently operating) signs featured in this section, please click on any of the pics in the carousel above. Or have a look through the menu below:
- Pike Place Market Sign (Seattle, WA)
- Scranton “Electric City” Sign (Scranton, PA)
- Meadow Gold Milk Sign (Tulsa, OK)
- Desert Hills Motel (Tulsa, OK)
- Augusta Historic Theatre (Augusta, KS)
A listing of Las Vegas’s neon/LED signs can be found on the Las Vegas Neon page.
Once-famous signs that no longer exist can be found on the Defunct Neon Signs in the USA page.