Cortland

Vintage Signs of Upstate New York

Lately I’ve been obsessed with old signs–neon signs, ghost signs, populuxe styles, etc. They represent a living memory of the past, and express uniqueness and character from a time when business owners displayed confidence and the promise of permanence.

Nothing lasts forever, of course, especially in the realm of business, but these signs were clearly designed for the long term. Proof is the fact many of these signs have outlasted the businesses themselves. Some, like the Crystal Restaurant in Watertown, New York, beat the odds and have survived for nearly a century.

Hot Lights: Neon and Incandescent Signs of Upstate New York

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.