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  1. How A Utah Company Became Nevada's Go-To Shop For Neon http://kuer.org/post/how-utah-company-became-nevadas-go-shop-neon#stream/ Ever since he was a young, Will Durham admits he’s had an affinity for neon. It’s hard not to when you grow up casino-studded town like Reno, Nevada. “When I was a kid I had a hard time going to sleep and I would always see that glow of downtown Reno and the neon,” he says. “And I knew there was still action going on, and I wasn’t the last one awake. And I think that kind of sparked the interest.” For the last two decades, Durham, who still lives in Reno, has been collecting vintage neon signs from old, retro-looking motels and roadside businesses — the kinds of places that seem to be disappearing across the desert West. He’s had to rent space to store all the signs — 100 and counting — and his garage is stuffed with them, too. He has to carefully maneuver around to get to a wall plug to light them all up. Among his signs, there’s a creepy clown, a couple of cowboys and a very happy man pulling a lever on a slot machine. “You can see the coins falling, he’s actually winning,” he says. He got that one from a place called the El Rancho in Wells, Nev., and he guesses it's probably 60-70 years old. Durham says there aren’t a lot of companies left doing this type of work, but there is one: the Young Electric Sign Company, or YESCO. “They’re maybe the most prolific in Nevada, and they've been around a long time," he said. Drive around Nevada long enough, and it’s impossible to have missed the work of the nearly century-old Young Electric Sign Company. That “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” sign that tourists take selfies in front of? That’s YESCO. Reno’s arch? YESCO. The 40-foot Vegas Vic or Wendover Will cowboys with hundreds of feet of winding neon tubing? Also YESCO. From billboards to office parks to the Las Vegas Strip, the company is one of the oldest manufacturers of commercial signs in the U.S. And although their signs are nearly synonymous with Vegas, they’re actually headquartered here in Utah. Jeff Young is a third generation co-owner of YESCO. It was founded by his grandfather Thomas Young in Ogden in 1920. He gave a tour of their Salt Lake factory last year. In the late 1920s, his grandfather saw an opportunity in a trendy new lighting technology made popular by a French engineer. So he applied for a license and got one of his first commissions: the Boulder Club in Las Vegas, in 1931. “The race for signs in Vegas really started right there with with Thomas Young, Sr. and his license with neon and we've never stopped,” says Jeff Young. “And so you talk about where neon really started in the Intermountain West and in the western U.S., and really the roads kind of all lead back to Tom Young.” Jeff Young and his two brothers now run the business, with more than 100 locations across the U.S. and in Canada. He says people are still surprised with they learn that some of the most iconic signs in Vegas came from a Utah company. “Oh, there’s a great contrast there,” he says. “You have a fairly clean-cut family and a rather conservative community building the biggest, brightest, flashiest signs in the world.” Inside their small neon shop in Salt Lake, neon bender Dave Corey blows into a small pipe that snakes into a glass tube he’s holding over an open flame. The pipe helps him keep the right amount of pressure so he can shape the tube into a curvy and alluring letter ‘B.’ “A lot of people think you're actually blowing glass," he says. "But for the most part you're not really blowing into the tube. When the heat heats the air that's inside the tube, it expands.” Corey has worked for YESCO for 30 years. He’s often thinking in the third dimension when figuring out how to make a sign into one seamless piece. Neon makes up only 10 percent of their business today, and most of that is for servicing and repairing older signs. LEDs are what most businesses want. Not only do they use less power and last longer, but companies can easily program them to swap out their graphics or messaging. Young says it’s also harder to find people who can invest the time to learn a trade like neon, which can take years. “Dave’s skill at bending is just phenomenal,” says Young. “We hate to say neon is a dying art, but the reality is it's hard to find a Dave in this world of ours. And it's harder harder to find people who are really good at this trade.” Will Durham, the Reno neon collector, says it’s an artform worth preserving. Part of it is nostalgia, he admits, but aesthetically, neon’s soft colors and sinuous curves are just more pleasing to the eye. He’s currently fundraising in hopes of establishing a permanent home for his collection. “You're never going to see these neon extravaganzas again," he says. "Like the 150-foot sign with miles and miles of pulsing neon, you’re never going to see that again.” But that won’t stop Durham from collecting what’s left of them. And it won’t stop YESCO’s Dave Corey from bending away in his small workshop in Salt Lake.
  2. New York City Neon Company Supporting Havana’s Neon Restoration Program New York City’s legendary neon creators, Let There Be Neon, has become the first US neon company involved in Havana, Cuba’s emerging neon sign restoration movement. Let There Be Neon has agreed to become a strategic partner with Habana Light Neon + Signs, Havana’s only private neon company, in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations. New York, NY (PRWEB) February 05, 2017 New York City’s legendary neon creators, Let There Be Neon, has become the first US neon company involved in Havana, Cuba’s emerging neon sign restoration movement. Let There Be Neon has agreed to become a strategic partner with Habana Light Neon + Signs, Havana’s only private neon company, in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations. This effort is made to confirm Let There Be Neon’s relationship with the innovative private sector company, Habana Light Neon + Signs, prior to the change in administration. This is a strategy other major US Companies are employing to solidify their business positions during a period of uncertainty in US-Cuba relations. Let There Be Neon will assist Habana Light in the exciting historic preservation projects now going on in that city. “We are committed to the preservation of historic neon throughout the world and Havana is a very special place in the history of neon said Jeff Friedman, President of Let There Be Neon. Mr Friedman added that as part of his company's involvement , Let There Be Neon will make a major contribution of supplies and materials, in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations, to Habana Light Neon + Signs to assist the restoration of what is left of Havana's historic neon sign structures. “Our company was established by a visionary, the late Rudi Stern, and our goal has always been to continue Rudi’s commitment on seeing neon flourish throughout the world.” said Mr. Friedman. The agreement with Habana Light Neon + Signs, which fully complies U.S. laws and regulations, calls for a strategic partnership whereby Let There Be Neon will assist small and emerging Cuban artists-entrepreneurs in achieving their dreams of bringing light and beauty back to the city of Havana. “We are very happy to have the support and guidance of such an important neon fabricator to assist us to expand our project " said Havana artist Kadir Lopez Nieves the Co- Founder of the Havana project who with Los Angeles, CA based Cuban producer Adolfo Nodal started restoring the historic signs in mid 2014 as a public art practice. Mr. Lopez Nieves and Mr. Nodal subsequently founded Habana Light Neon + Signs and have restored a variety of historic neon signs. “This new relationship with Let There Be Neon will greatly increase our capacity to reach a critical mass of restorations that will make all the difference in showing results for the everyday citizen on the street who are the prime beneficiaries of our work.” Said Mr. Nodal who is well known in Los Angeles for the successful revival of that city's historic neon signage. Habana Light Neon + Signs is Cuba’s premiere neon sign restoration and production Company. Now two years old, the company restores historic signs as a public service http://thegrid.ai/habana-light-neon-signs Let There Be Neon is one of the world’s most important custom neon and sign companies working alongside artists, architects and numerous trades in the professional and private sector throughout the world. http://www.lettherebeneon.com For more information contact: Jeff Friedman 212 226-4883 info(at)lettherebeneon(dot)com or Adolfo Nodal 310 808-3594 habananeon(at)gmail(dot)com -END- CONTACT Jeff Friedman Let There Be Neon 212-226-4883 212-334-8481 info@(at)ettherebeneon(dot)com
  3. PSFS lighting: Committee rejects switch from neon to LED http://planphilly.com/articles/2015/05/27/psfs-lighting-committee-rejects-switch-from-neon-to-led Four letters have spelled Philly since 1932: PSFS. High above 12th and Market streets, two 26-foot high PSFS signs have been illuminated by parallel tubes of red neon for 83 years. Now the landmark building’s owners and consultants contend that the sign lighting systems are at the end of their serviceable life, and it’s time for a 21st century replacement. The PSFS building was individually listed in the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1968, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The local designation means any changes to the exterior require Philadelphia Historical Commission approval. On Tuesday Heritage Consulting Group presented an application on behalf of Loews Philadelphia Hotel to the commission’s Architectural Committee to convert the PSFS sign’s illumination from neon to Light Emitting Diodes (LED) designed to closely match the original color and intensity. The committee, which offers advisory recommendations to the commission, unanimously rejected the LED proposal voicing several concerns. Commission staff did not recommend approval of the application because the applicants did not demonstrate that it is not feasible to restore the sign. Loews, which has operated the PSFS building as a hotel since 2000, argued that safely maintaining the sign is a challenge, as is keeping all letters illuminated. What were once parallel tubes of neon have been reduced to disjointed single runs of neon, the result of years of temporary fixes aimed at keeping the lights on. The application package states that the building’s head engineer says the sign can’t even be powered down at this point because “each time the power is cycled, at least one section of the sign goes dark due to damaged electrical wiring.” Though neon restoration could be cheaper the applicants said the conversion to LED would help Loews meet its corporate sustainability targets, save on energy costs, and require less frequent repairs. “Loews is committed to keeping the sign lit,” Danny Smith, a Loews representative, told the committee. Heritage Consulting’s Cindy Hamilton noted that Loews is trying to be a good Philadelphia citizen, but it is under no obligation to keep the sign illuminated. Indeed before the hotel conversion the letters were dark for most of the 1990s. While some committee members were open to the idea of LEDs, they were not persuaded by the application. The applicants, they said, had not demonstrated that replacing the neon in-kind – which would effectively require rebuilding the neon system – was infeasible. The proposed LED design would mimic the neon tubes with two lines of light set in a box. Committee members felt that an LED mockup installed on one section of the sign looked convincing when viewed head on, some had concerns about how the sign would be visible from oblique views. While tubes of neon are meant to reflect off of the coated surface of the sign’s letters, they wondered if the boxed LEDs would glow as visibly. (As of this writing, the mockup is still on the sign – bonus points for the person who can name what letter it is on.) The application argues that unlike art neon signs, the use of neon on the PSFS sign was simply the chosen vehicle for illumination. Commission staffer Randal Baron said, however, that staff regards the neon as an artifact in its own right. The PSFS sign was a pioneering example of integrating illuminated graphics into architecture, designed as part of George Howe and William Lescaze’s bold International Style skyscraper. The sign is a defining feature on the most important building added to Philadelphia in the 20th century. “This is an icon we need to treat as respectfully as possible,” said the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s Advocacy Director Patrick Grossi in a public comment. The owners, he said, should make every effort to restore the neon. Plus, he expressed trepidation that an LED sign could open the door to different colors being programmed instead of the sign’s trademark red. (Imagine a green PSFS on a big Eagles game day.) Neon artisan and historian Len Davidson also commented that the PSFS sign’s neon system has been so badly compromised and rigged that it’s stressed, by design. In his estimation a rebuilt, well-balanced neon system would be more enduring than LEDs, which do not perform especially well in high-humidity, bad weather, and high-up installations. Neon, Davidson said, has a long track record while we don’t know the true longevity of LEDs. The Historical Commission will review the application to turn PSFS from neon to LED at its meeting on Friday, June 12.
  4. Erik Sine

    Back to Good

    After some testimony on this subject the panel voted to stick with Neon after all, a VERY wise decision. Good for Lenny to step in. It's too bad they thought they were limited in vendors to choose from to come in and complete the job and restore the Neon. They just need to pick someone who continues to manufacture Neon projects, theirs plenty of them out there and supplies aren't that hard to find especially for this one. Glass, glass housings, GTO & Transformers aren't that hard to find....maybe not looking hard enough or just looking for an easy way out. Just hope who ever does the work re-engineers the tranny runs and does it right. Loews would replace neon PSFS sign with LED letters http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150527_Loews_would_replace_neon_PSFS_sign_with_LED_letters.html The Loews hotel chain has tinkered for 15 years to keep the neon PSFS sign aglow on Philadelphia's skyline, but officials said Tuesday they believe the time has come to do away with the old and bring in the new. Arguing that the 83-year-old sign has become too costly and burdensome to maintain Loews representatives asked the Philadelphia Historical Commission for permission to replace the neon tubes and transformers of the signature red sign with LED lights. The commission's architecture committee voted unanimously against the idea. The 27-foot-tall sign, atop the skyline since its installation in 1932 by the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, they argued, is a historic artifact that can, and should, be fixed. "The standards are very clear that it's better to repair than replace," said committee member Suzanne Pentz, referring to preservation rules in place. "The neon is its own artifact," said preservation planner Randal Baron. The PSFS matter came during the fifth hour of a busy meeting during which the committee also voted against a high-profile plan for Center City's nearly demolished 1920s-era Boyd movie palace. That proposal, by Jim Pearlstein's Pearl Properties, seeks to build an apartment tower and street-level stores where the Boyd formerly occupied a large section of Chestnut Street between 19th and 20th Streets. The committee expressed a number of concerns, ranging from what materials might be used on new facades, to whether to install a glass enclosure leading into an arcade entryway beneath the theater's original marquee. Both proposals were scheduled to come before the full commission for a vote June 12th. But where the Boyd for years has been a lightning rod of debate and scuttled redevelopment plans as preservationists squared off with developers, the PSFS sign proposal shed light on the fragile goodwill that has kept the unmistakable and enduring landmark visible on the city's skyline. Before Loews moved into the dormant PSFS building in 1999, the sign had been dark for a decade, noted consultant Cindy Hamilton, representing the hotel. Loews has no obligation to retain the sign, let alone keep it lit, despite its prominence and the company's decision to include it prominently on the hotel's Philadelphia website. And yet, the company stitched together a fix here and there for years, until deciding it did not want to spend a hefty sum to rebuild it entirely as a high-wattage neon structure. Now, amid increasingly scarce suppliers of neon, the hotelier said it was eager for an alternative to keep the sign lit. Officials said it would be cheaper and easier to maintain the PSFS sign if it were replaced by a system of lower-wattage LED lights, as was done years ago on Boathouse Row. The popularity of LED has become so great it has contributed to the dearth of once-prevalent neon, said Danny Smith, the hotel's director of engineering. Where there used to be many suppliers, there now is only one for the PSFS moniker, said Patrick Hoban, of Philadelphia Sign Co., whose employees scale and sometimes dangle from the letters to conduct tricky maintenance work. "It's getting harder to get neon components," Hoban said. "It takes me weeks to get the neon to come in," Smith added. Len Davidson, who refurbishes neon signs, did not buy the scarcity argument. Neon for his projects, he said, has been readily available. "This sign is a great example of demolition by neglect," Davidson said. "The sign has been compromised terribly."
  5. National Park Service grants available for Route 66 preservation in Tulsa http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/national-park-service-grants-available-for-route-preservation-in-tulsa/article_5f8f6782-2ba6-569a-8f43-71b6040ee1c0.html This is great, money available to the qualified! Now they just need to search for some REAL qualified sign companies who know what their doing to they can IMPROVE (re-engineer) the old sign installations and make them maintenance free for at least 10 years before even so much as a transformer replacement
  6. Pretty cool. Came across this story to a beautiful Neon sign that was was posted here during the production in a thread about the rise of Neon back in the electric sign industry. New Long Beach Dunkin’ Donuts draws a crowd http://www.presstelegram.com/general-news/20141209/new-long-beach-dunkin-donuts-draws-a-crowd LONG BEACH>> Dunkin’ Donuts return to California continued Tuesday morning as dozens awoke before dawn to line up outside the chain’s new store to either taste an old favorite or find out what all the fuss is about. “They go back all the way to my early childhood,” said Glenn Ferdinand, 49, of Long Beach. “My mom worked at Dunkin’ Donuts when I was a kid. Dunkin’ Donuts is part of my life.” Ferdinand grew up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, and dressed for the occasion of the new store’s opening in a pullover Red Sox jacket. “This is the first stop when I travel home. This is the first stop for me,” he said while he waited for a large “regular” cup of coffee and a “honey-dipped” doughnut, which is known on this side of the country as a glazed doughnut. Long Beach’s new Dunkin’ Donuts opened at 5 a.m. near the 7th Street-Pacific Coast Highway intersection. In Long Beach, the doughnut chain’s opening attracted a steady stream of drive-thru and walk-in customers. Some of those who stood in line said they arrived about an hour before the store’s opening trying to become one of the first 100 customers who claimed an orange bag of “doughnut swag” that included a coffee cup and voucher for a free cup of caffeinated brew. The first customer in line received free coffee for a year. That customer was Johnny Hoops of North Hollywood; he has also been the first customer the store’s openings in Downey and Santa Monica, company officials said. The Long Beach spot was once home to The Original Grind, and to the relief of Long Beach history buffs, store operators decided to keep the old business’ giant doughnut to advertise its wares. Franchisee Dan Almquist joked that he had to divert money that he could have otherwise saved for one of his children’s education to pay for the sign’s restoration. “It was a few bucks. It was a six-figure number,” Almquist said, noting that the restoration required a considerable amount of new materials. The sign makes the Long Beach shop unique among Dunkin’ Donuts establishments, and not just the few that have opened in California. Company public relations manager Lindsay Harrington said the 7th Street store is the only Dunkin’ Donuts in the country that has such an iconic, large doughnut sign outside its doors. The Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Donuts has thus far only established a minimal presence in the Golden State. After a long absence from California, the chain opened the first of a new wave of stand-alone stores in August in the Central Valley city of Modesto. Dunkin’ Donuts followed that move up with a focus on Southern California. Santa Monica welcomed a Dunkin’ Donuts store in early September, and Downey saw a store arrive later that month. As the chain expands, Long Beach could see more Dunkin’ Donuts open locally. Almquist, who is managing partner of Newport Beach’s Frontier Real Estate Investments, said the company invested around $2 million to open the new Long Beach store and has plans for two or three more stores in the seaside city. Potential locations and future opening dates are “top secret” for now. Besides the new standalone stores, Dunkin’ Donuts products are also for sale in California at Camp Pendleton, Barstow Station and inside the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay Downtown Hotel. The chain has announced plans for more than 200 California stores to open in the next several years.
  7. Neon still shines bright http://www.observer-reporter.com/article/20141108/NEWS01/141109495#.VF-p_Ie0iOg Jason Layton has been a tube bender for 15 years, an old-school artisan who burns straight sticks of glass over hot flame to form neon signs. “He’s great at intricate bending. He thrives on most things that benders don’t like,” said Ken Schmidt, office manager and layout artist for Neon Doctor in Pittsburgh, where Layton works. There aren’t many tube benders left. Through the 1980s and some of the '90s, accomplished neon benders worked long hours, sometimes around the clock. They were craftsmen who began as apprentices and spent years perfecting their skills. But neon’s popularity has dropped in the past decade, as businesses switch to cheaper, more energy-efficient LED bulbs. Schmidt isn’t writing off neon yet, though. “People say it’s a dying art, and to a point it is. But thousands of signs are still being lit by neon. LED will never replace the brightness and the art of neon,” said Schmidt. “There are a lot of people who like the nostalgic look and won’t settle for anything else. We’re as busy as we’ve ever been.” A brief history of neon, courtesy of Neon Doctor’s employees: The gas was discovered in 1898 by two British chemists, who named it “neon,” the Greek word for “new.” It’s one of several gases that light up (neon turns red) when an electrical charge passes through them. The first neon bulb was created by French engineer Georges Claude in 1902 when he sent electricity through a sealed glass tube containing neon. Tube benders add other gases such as argon and xenon to create the familiar bright hues that neon signs emit. Before neon, incandescent bulbs were sign makers’ favorite lighting, said Tod Swormstedt, founder of the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio, which contains more than 4,400 artifacts, including 600 signs and a working neon shop. Neon signs arrived in the U.S. in 1923 when a Los Angeles Packard auto dealership installed two signs that caused traffic to stop as drivers gawked at them. By 1940, the downtowns of nearly every U.S. city were bright with neon signage, and there were 2,000 shops nationwide designing and making neon signs. H&R Signs in Washington fabricated dozens of neon signs in the city, including the black-and-white Observer-Reporter sign that hangs in front of the company’s building. By the late 1950s, though, neon began losing ground to newer technology. It enjoyed a resurgence in the 1970s, when architects on the West Coast and in New York City incorporated it into homes and buildings as a light source, and neon artists like Rudi Stern, who ran a Soho studio called Let There Be Neon, created neon sculptures. “If you want that exposed neon look like you have in Las Vegas and New Orleans, you have to go with neon. But basically, the market for lighting belongs to LEDs now,” said Swormstedt. “You can pay a kid $10 an hour to do LED lighting because there’s no art involved, it’s easy to install and it’s low voltage.” According to a survey by the trade publication Signs of the Times (Swormstedt’s great-grandfather was the first editor of the family-run magazine and Swormstedt worked there until he started the museum), just 18 percent of neon signs were lit by neon in 2010, compared with 40 percent that were lit by LEDs. Inside the windows of Shorty’s, an iconic hot dog shop in Washington, hang two neon red “Shorty’s” signs. Neon red tubes frame the windows. “We opened the store in the early '30s, and I’m in my 40s, and those neon signs have been there as long as I can remember,” said Steve Alexas, owner of the family-operated business. “The restaurant is the same as it was when I was a kid, and the nostalgia is something that people like about it. There are things I’d like to change and update about the place, but the lights and booths are a package deal, people love the look and we’re not supposed to change anything.” Over the years, the tubes have broken (once during a robbery at the restaurant and, occasionally, when workers are cleaning the windows), and H&R Signs has repaired the damage. Age and elements have taken their toll on other 20th-century neon artifacts throughout Washington County, including the neon sign that graced the Coyle Theater in Charleroi for more than half a century. The Mid Mon Valley Cultural Trust is working to restore the theater and the neon marquee and blade out front. The theater was built in 1891, and the art deco neon marquee and blade added in 1939. “It’s a profound piece of architecture and it brings back memories of those big, beautiful blades that are still around and can be saved,” said Melanie Patterson, chairman of the cultural trust. “People associate those neon blades with certain areas because the signs have been around so long. They’re like landmarks. Many were taken down years ago because they were expensive and costly to repair. But they’re worth saving.” Schmidt has worked in sign shops for 30 years and has helped build some iconic Pittsburgh signs, including the Heinz ketchup bottle that now resides in the Heinz History Museum. Neon Doctor has crafted and repaired all sorts of neon signs: beer signs, sports signs and vintage signs. Neon Doctor’s clients include Primanti’s restaurants, Applebee’s, Arby’s and Longhorn Steakhouses, pizza shops, nail and hair salons, barber shops, car washes, car dealerships and beer distributors throughout the region. The company also has recreated neon’s lost eras for movies and television shows. Swormstedt thinks there will always be a market for neon. “You’re seeing pockets around the country and in Canada where they’re trying to resurrect and restore neon signs. Saginaw, Mich., has a six-block area they call their neon district, and they’re trying to restore or bring in signs. Vancouver is doing the same thing,” said Swormstedt. “New Mexico spent public tax money restoring neon signs along Route 66. They know it brings in tourists and there is some return on your dollar.” Neonworks, the neon sign shop operating in the museum, “is the last neon shop remaining in Cincinnati, but they’re backed up with work for collectors and businesses who want signs restored,” Swormstedt said. “There’s so much romance around neon. I know it’s an emotional connection and, I think, it s a nostalgia thing, It’s a walk down memory lane and it’s always good memories.”
  8. What began as Galveston Island’s Sears and Roebuck store is now home to one of GHF’s more public endeavors. To celebrate the recent exterior restoration work as well as the recently installed neon sign, the public is invited for a day of vintage fun at our 1940 Sears’s Building, located at 2228 Broadway, on Saturday, Sept. 13. http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/humble/living/galveston-historical-foundation-s-sears-building-to-host-open-house/article_5e325713-87f4-5ab6-88b4-5e804fe285ce.html
  9. From the album: GSR

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