Phil’s Gift Shop and Ellis Bros Furniture still exist in Binghamton, New York, but you can no longer drive past these vintage signs, which are located in the Washington Street pedestrian mall downtown. Ellis Brothers Fine Home Furnishings was founded in 1900 and has occupied the same location for over a century. Phil’s Gift Shop, owned by the Ellis family since 1939, moved north to 136 East Service Road (along Interstate 88).
The Rocket Center is a strip mall at 584 Court Street (U.S. Route 11), east of Binghamton, New York. This sign is a great example of Populuxe/Raygun Gothic. Today, this area is something like a vice district, with three strip clubs and a sleazy motel in close proximity.
Coca-Cola ghost sign on the side of a brick building at 144 Court Street (U.S. Route 11) in Binghamton, New York. “Delicious and refreshing – Relieves Fatigue” … because it used to contain trace amounts of cocaine. Coca-Cola didn’t become completely cocaine-free until 1929.
Danny’s Diner, at 151 Main Street in Binghamton, New York, is a classic Sterling model from 1939. According to Roadfood.com, “Danny’s is very popular today, due in large part, we’re sure, to the efforts of owner Pam, whose personality is a perfect complement to Danny’s. Danny and Pam were once married, and when that marriage ended, Danny’s became Pam’s (in ownership, if not in name).”
Neon and incandescent signs were popular during the first half of the twentieth century and used to line America’s main streets, especially in larger cities. They consisted of glass tubes bent into a variety of shapes and lit with colorful gas. Sadly, after World War 2 they were considered garish, ugly, and expensive, so many were removed. In some cases, businesses removed the neon lights but kept the signs. It’s a shame because they add character and uniqueness to a commercial district.