Neon signs have a nostalgic sense about them. They sometimes trigger a memory from the early 20th century, usually of an ad campaign or a hotel sign. In the signage industry, they are electronic signs lit by gas-discharge tubes filled mainly with rarefied neon – a noble gas and a chemical element. Today, neon signs are also used by performers and architects.
Did you know that:
It was Georges Claude, a French engineer, who invented neon lighting. The very first time Claude presented his invention was in 1910 at the Paris Motor Show. Since then, neon lights had become a pop culture phenomenon. From 1920 to 1940, they were primarily used in advertising. By the end of the 1940s, the major cities in the US were glowing with “liquid fire.”
For neon signs lovers, there are several museums open to experience first-hand the fascinating art and design of neon signs. The most famous museums for this medium are in Las Vegas and Philadelphia. The Las Vegas museums, founded in 1996, are split into two – one is the Freemont Street Gallery, and the other is The Boneyard. The former features ten refurbished signs that are available for viewing day or night. The latter is home to over 150 historic, unrestored neon signs.
In Philly, the Neon Museum of Philadelphia, founded in 1985, houses the collection of Len Davidson. The museum has over 100 signs dating back to the late 1940s. Other notable neon museums include the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles founded in 1981 by neon artist Lili Lakich and the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati founded in 1999.
There’s such a thing as the “neon gravesite in Las Vegas.” It’s where plenty of historic neon signs were “discarded” after the establishments they advertised were closed and torn down.
Some of the most famous neon signs are the “Made in Oregon” sign in Portland, the Westinghouse sign in Pittsburg, the Reno arch in Reno, Nevada, the Coppertone Girl in Miami, the Grain Beer Belt in Minneapolis, Schrafft’s in Boston, and Vegas Vic in Las Vegas.
The color of the neon light depends on the gas inside the tube. In general, neon gives off a clear orange light. Other gasses and chemicals are also used to create different colors like hydrogen for red, helium for yellow, mercury for blue and carbon dioxide for white.
You can enjoy the beauty of these bright, illuminating signs minus the science behind them with this pack of neon sign photos.