by Kevin Walsh

I’m past this neon liquor store sign on Broadway west of Steinway Street all the time, but rarely late enough to see it lit up, like this. You rarely see an all-green neon sign. The rest of the display window seems equally old-school, with curved glass and stenciled lettering. Is neon expensive? If not, why did we get away from it in awning signs? Yes, new neon can be found here and there, but most of it is on aged fixtures from the 1940s or earlier.

Liquor store signs also give signmakers, in neon, paint, plastic, whatever the medium, to use the letter Q, one of the wild cards in the alphabet since it can be rendered in different ways.

I rarely use liquor as in bourbon, scotch, whiskey. The whole lot tastes extremely bitter to me and warms the inside of my throat going down. I suppose if you ask serious drinkers why they drink, the answer is “to get drunk.” I have drank gallons of beer over 50+ years but very little liquor. I stay away from drunkenness, as I don’t like the spinning room and the proclivity to vomit.

But everyone should do what they like.



the Cheese September 9, 2014 - 9:27 pm

While extremely cool to look at and an instant draw of the eye at night, old-school neon has several serious drawbacks.
1. Uses comparatively more electricity (thus more money) than more modern signage.
2. Expensive to maintain if/when it goes on the fritz.
3. Prone to breakage by hooligans.

Also, in many areas around the US, changes to signage laws in the 1970s and 1980s were the death knell for bright, and especially animated (as many old-school neons were) signage.

Jake September 15, 2014 - 12:14 pm

Well, I realize you are trying to be helpful, but I believe you are misinformed on several points about neon(argon in this case). First of all, when I think of old school neon it has more to do with the design and construction of the sign. Exposed channel letters like the cool sign above draws your eye like no other illuminated product. The idea that it is not cost effect is a concoction of the LED industry to gain market share over the “old fashion” neon . Yes you will save some electricity by using LED’s but there is no such thing as “exposed LED” . it would look awful to boot. Neon illuminates 360 degrees which is why it has such a warm look. LED’s illuminate only forward, not soft back light …no charm

I occasionally have repairs for vandalism but we are talking 1 in 200 repair calls. a(I am a neon bender and own a neon company) Very rarely do people vandalize neon. Even with breakage from weather and accidents, it is not much more expensive to repair the other service calls. From what I can tell of this sign it has virtually all original glass…maybe 30+ years old. That is cost effective adversting!

Yes, local sign codes do ban neon. But to be honest, I think there are just a lot of anti-neon people out there that want all neon banned…. Vermont has banned argon tubes(colored tubes). Not fluorescent tubes…just neon signage…. that is rant for another day…
That’s my 2 cents anyway.


Dan S. September 11, 2014 - 4:12 pm

Did anyone notice the dental office sign over the black door to the right? I was a patient of Dr. Mallman’s for a couple of years. It is a one-man office open only two days a week, very sparsely furnished, but he does good work at cheap prices.

ExLIer September 12, 2014 - 8:04 pm

Dayum! There’s NOTHING like green neon! I love it! (And blue neon, too!) They attract the eyes like flies to doody!


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