Thursday, September 16, 2010

History of West Hollywood's On Route-66 Lights illuminated...

In August I showcased West Hollywood's new On Route-66 Lights, but I didn't really know their origin story at the time, so here's an update with some history on these intriguing neon signs.

La Fonda
La Fonda Route 66 Lights neon sign at night
This neon couple danced above La Fonda Mexican Food in Glendale, California since 1946.

Ricardo Romero donated the sign to the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) in 1984. From 1993 to 2000 the colourful sign could be found with others from MONA's collection, in the central plaza of Universal City Walk.

Diver
Neon Diver Route 66 Lights
This arresting neon sign is a replica of the Virginia Court Motel Diver which was built in 1950. The original sign was added when a pool was installed at the motel in Meridian, Mississippi.

The motel was demolished in 2000, but the sign was saved and restored by Mike Gambone in Buffalo, New York. He loaned it to MONA in 2008 for display in their temporary location on 4th Street in Downtown L.A.

Zinke's
Zinke's Route 66 Lights neon sign at night
This animated Zinke's Shoe Repair sign was built with a porcelain enamel finish in 1928 for Zinke's in Glendale, California.

In 1983 Zinke's donated the sign to MONA and it was displayed at Universal City Walk until 2000. Apparently two existing Zinke's signs of different designs can be found in Pasadena and Glendale, both in working order.

So there you have a bit more background on these historical lights. Interestingly I noticed that some other neighbourhood outdoor art, the colourful sculptures along Santa Monica Boulevard at Doheny Drive, have now disappeared. Maybe the On Route-66 Lights replaced them.

Peter Shire's geometric sculptures
WEHO Peter Shire geometric sculptures
You can guarantee there's something happening in West Hollywood all the time to keep the place looking interesting...

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