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Remembering Retro Neon Signs

April 06, 2018 2 min read

Neon signs have been around for over a century, with the first sign displayed at the Paris Motor Show in 1910. Since then, some truly iconic designs have cropped up over the years. In many cases, retro neon signs have grown well beyond their initial purpose to help market a company; some have become tourist attractions in themselves, and attract thousands of eager-eyed tourists each and every year. So, if you’re looking for some iconic inspiration for your next piece of neon art, here is a look at some of the most retro neon signs around.

The Reno Arch
The Reno Arch in Reno, Nevada is perhaps the oldest piece of retro neon art still on display. The first arch was built in 1926, designed to promote the Nevada Transcontinental Highway Exposition. The council designed to keep the arch even after the event ended. The neon enhancements were added in 1934. The Reno Arch has been regularly maintained and changed over the years; the current version is its 3rd, and the design is the same as it was 90 years ago.

Vegas Vic
At night, the Las Vegas skyline is filled with countless iconic pieces of retro neon art, and perhaps the best well known is Vegas Vic. Vegas Vic, a cigarette-smoking cowboy, is situated on the wall outside the old Pioneer Club. Though the club is now just a souvenir store, it is Vegas Vic that continues to draw tourists to the spot and into the store. It has stood ever since 1951 and is still going strong today after some major modernisation in 1998.

The Skipping Girl
The Skipping Girl is one of the best examples of the fascination people have with retro neon art. The Skipping Girl was once a mascot built to help promote a new brand of vinegar, and it might have been the first animated neon sign in Australia. The company has long since gone, but The Skipping Girl was left behind and soon grew into a local hero. When it was taken down in 1968, the locals campaigned for two years to have The Skipping Girl reinstated due to its huge popularity.

Airline Diner(See Featured Image)
In the neighbourhood of Astoria, Queens in New York City, animated neon art also made an impact. It was a notable landmark in the area for over 50 years and appeared in the Goodfellas film. However, neon lighting in those days suffered heavily from the weather; every time it rained hard, the neon outline of the flying plane needed replacing.

These retro neon signs represent some of the most famous neon signage still in existence. They show the power and popularity that neon signs offer and their tremendous marketing potential. Hopefully, they can help to inspire your next neon design.


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