I’m feeling a little cabin-feverish as the next winter precipitation event (snow or rain?) heads this way, so let’s head afield with this photo from Milkwaukee, circa 2009. Alas, I can’t find the name of the motel (this was before I began Project Neon, so wasn’t always as meticulous about recording the names of neoned businesses). Do you know what it is? I think it was on the south side of the city, near the airport on 41 or 94 before they merge. There were some nice hand-painted signs as well.
This neon is simple, but I like it. The clean lines of the gable set off the unchanneled glow nicely, and it has all the warmth a weary traveler could hope for.
I wish I could take some neon road trips soon, but I don’t really trust myself to drive at the moment with my muscle cramps, migraines, and occasional vertigo. Plus I’m still tired a lot, so I’m not sure how much fun a lot of driving would be. For now I’ll just keep looking through my travel photos and enjoying the glow closer to home.
Do you know the name of this mysterious Milwaukee motel?
I finally made it with my camera to visit to beautifully restored neon at The Long Island Bar on Atlantic Avenue (I’ve been repeatedly foiled by the never ending snowstorms, among other things). I was feeling more Hopper than Toulouse-Lautrec, so I contented myself with peering in the windows rather than joining the animated crowd inside, but the interior looks almost as lovely as the exterior (you can read a review of the bar — it’s not a restaurant at all despite the sign — in The New Yorker). Of course the particular charm of the original is gone, but the glow, inside and out, is as bright as ever.
The Long Island Bar sits near the BQE on the south side of Atlantic Avenue at Henry Street, so technically is in Cobble Hill, I guess, though I’ve always thought of it as part of Brooklyn Heights. Whichever neighborhood it’s in, I’ll definitely go back sometime soon when it’s not a busy Saturday night and I’m not feeling so solitary. Still, though, the neon’s a treat, and I salute the new owners for bringing back the pink & green glow. You can read all about the ace restoration job by Let There Be Neon on the New York Neon blog.
One of the things I especially love about this sign is that on the Atlantic Avenue side Long Island is spelled out (in lovely script — I’ve always been partial to this style of cursive letter “I”), and on the Henry Street side it’s just LI:
It’s such a clever way of dealing with uneven facade lengths and emphasizing the primary facade without neglecting the side. As I’ve said before I’m a fan of pink & green in neon (though not so much elsewhere), and I always love the combination of script and block letters, especially when the block letters are as elegant as this with curve-topped As and drop-waisted Es. Add in the wonderful rotated column for BAR and some stainless steel, and it’s all pretty perfect.
While there I couldn’t help revisiting Montero down the street. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t sing its praises again, but it’s another sign I really, really love. (For more of the history that connects the two bars, read this article from 2006 in the New York Times.) If we could just get a couple more similarly spectacular neon signs on this stretch of Atlantic (and maybe tone down the floodlights at the gas station across from the Long Island Restaurant), it could be a real neon delight.
In Tremont, the Bronx on East Tremont Avenue at Park Avenue
Oh man, I am SO behind on Project Neon. Thanks for your patience! First of all, December 3rd was Project Neon’s birthday. Happy belated birthday, Project Neon! Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling up to any neon visits, but I hope to head out soon. I need some neon glow to get through these loooong winter nights.
In other neon news, congratulations to Erin S. for winning the Project Neon giveaway! I’ll be sending out your 2014 neon calendar this week!
Over on the New York Neon blog, a sad tradition: the list of neon signs we lost in the last year.
A slight change of operating procedure here — I’m going to start posting links, news, etc. (like the above) to the Project Neon Facebook page, rather than here on the blog, just to simplify things on my end.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Frank’s, but isn’t the neon wonderful? It lights up that corner of Tremont Avenue like gangbusters. More views over on Flickr.
NB: The Project Neon giveaway winner will be announced soon!
Holy cow, you guys! Circo’s Pastry Shop’s recently restored neon is BEAUTIFUL. I emailed them ages ago to ask if they had any plans to relight their long-dark neon signs, and received a friendly reply that gave me some home that some day, maybe, it might just happen. But I know how these things go, and the chances of a large-scale neon restoration seem vanishingly small these days. But then, lo and behold, earlier this summer New York Neon blog reported the great news that super neon-bender Robbie Ingui of Artistic Neon had completed the restoration of the main signs. (I recommend reading that post for a wonderful behind-the-scenes report.)
With one thing and another I hadn’t made it out there until last night. The long, dark winter nights mean it’s now prime neon-viewing season, so I jumped on the L train and headed out to the far side of Bushwick — nearly to Ridgewood, Queens — to have a look for myself. (I was too cold to continue on to Queens Tavern née Caskys, but picking up some anisette biscotti and bringing them to the tavern for beer dunking sounds like a great neon double-feature for another time.)
There’s a bold neon-red “BAKERY” on one side of the corner storefront, and a classic pink and green “CIRCO’S pastry shop” on the other. The capital letters have slab-serifs, and “pastry shop” is in one of the most appealing neon scripts I’ve seen yet. I’m seriously in love with this neon and glad I hauled myself out in the cold to visit.
You should go, too. You should really, really go. It’s a fabulous Italian bakery, full of traditional Italian treats like biscotti di San Marino (only available in the fall near his feast day, November 11) and new-fangled confections, like custom-made cakes.
An aside about San Marino: he’s the patron saint of wine-makers (a fall activity), and legend says that San Marino cut his cloak to give half to a beggar for warmth, so an unseasonably late warmth, near his feast day (what we call an Indian summer) is known in Italy (and France) as a St. Marino’s summer (estate di san marino). I’m going to start using that. His feast is celebrated by eating biscotti di San Marino, and dunking them in new wine.
I settled on some anisette biscotti (I’m currently trying to corral the crumbs away from my keyboard), and marveled at the shop’s classic details, like the name in terrazzo on the front step. According to the writeup over on New York Neon, the window neon is currently being repaired — can’t wait to see that. And maybe, just maybe, the fantastic vertical “Dolceria” sign will come later. I hope so! If buying more biscotti will help, I’ll certainly be back soon. (Especially since I’m not 100% pleased with my photos — apologies for the weird color shift!)
Circo’s, you’re the best, and a new Project Neon favorite. Thanks for restoring your sign, and thanks to Artistic Neon for doing such a beautiful job.
PROJECT NEON GIFT GUIDE
Before we begin: Don’t forget to enter the Project Neon giveaway! Only one week left!
Oh, would you look at that? The gifting season is nearly upon us. While Project Neon firmly believes any day is a good day for presents, we can’t help appreciating a good gifting frenzy. If any of your giftees are fellow Project Neon fans, have a look at the suggestions below. And if not, perhaps you’ll find a nice present for yourself. After all, you *do* deserve a treat!
Not all of these items are directly neon related, but they all share a certain spirit with Project Neon, and they’re all things I either already own or wish I did.
Of course you should check out Project Neon’s very own Etsy shop first. It’s a limited selection at the moment, but the 2014 calendars make great gifts! I’m also working on an exciting new product — it’s going to take a little testing, though, so it may not be ready in time for the holidays. And I’m also looking at bringing back the ever popular Neon ABCs poster — I’ll keep you updated on that. Plus if you’re looking for a custom gift, like a print of one of my photos, let me know and I’ll put up a listing for you.
Project Neon also heartily recommends buying gifts from shops with great neon signs. Need a fishing rod? A gift certificate for dinner? A fancy bottle of booze? A night out? Include a photo of the sign on the card for bonus gifting points!
New York Neon, by Thomas Rinaldi, is a fantastic book full of beautiful New York neon photos and lots of great neon sign history. Every neon lover should own this!
Polish Cold War Neon by Ilona Karwinska has less context, but is chock full of really beautiful photographs of neon signs throughout Poland. Another A+ gift for any neon fan.
Perhaps your giftee is, like me, also interested in hand-painted signs? If so, Sign Painters by Faythe Levine is the perfect present.
A mix of beautiful signs (including both hand-painted and neon) populate the pages of the wonderful Pittsburgh Sign Project book (can you tell I’m a book worm?), by Mark Stroup, Elizabeth Perry, and my fantastic friends, Jennifer Baron and Greg Langel. Highly recommended!
More gifts from people I like: my talented friends Karen McBurnie and Jon Hammer have put together a great map of notable Manhattan bars for Herb Lester Associates. These bars are classics, and some even have great neon to boot. Never be at a loss for a place to imbibe again!
For a friend with a lot of wall space, what about commissioning a custom neon sign? There are a bunch of great sign shops around, including Let There Be Neon, Lite Brite Neon, and Artistic Neon, to name just three.
Neon art is another great gift for those with the space to display it. Cleveland artist Jeffrey Chiplis creates glowing art out of found neon pieces, one of which I saw recently at the Scope art fair.
OK, did I miss anything? What Project Neon-ish presents are on your wish list this year?
No, no one paid to be on this list. Project Neon is not Big Time like that, at least not yet!