Signs of the times: Preservationists aim to relight Sonoma County with neon

15 November 2021

Back in the mid-20th century, neon signs were on the skids.

Public tastes had turned against the ubiquitous glowing letters and cocktail glasses that beckoned people to dime stores, diners, laundromats and lounges in virtually every town in America, from tiny burgs to big cities. Neon, associated in the public’s mind with Vegas gambling and prostitution, became a tarnished symbol of the worst of modern life.

Even as early as 1946, in the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey finds himself thrust into the future “Pottersville,” a hellscape of neon signs signifying moral decay.

But local landmark preservationists and enthusiasts who appreciate both the cultural history inherent in neon signs and the artistry that went into their creation are sending out an SOS to spare the few neon signs that are left.


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