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.
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).”
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.
Googie and Populuxe were mid-twentieth century architecture and design styles characterized by consumerism and futuristic and Space Age aesthetics. It promised luxury for the masses, convenience, leisure, and upward mobility. Consequently, this style was adopted most often by the service industry–gas stations, motels, laundromats, diners, car washes, and drive in theaters. Colorful geometric shapes, neon lights, and atomic or space themes are identifying characteristics. How can you not love these old signs? Unfortunately, many have been sent to the trash heap since they are often considered gaudy eyesores.