Around the world in 100 signs.

NEW JERSEY, USA 

The Empress Hotel, opened 1961. It also featured on the single sleeve of Hungry Heart. 

Asbury Park, New Jersey – a funny little place with all these links to Debbie Harry and Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith and The Ramones but it’s pretty much just a boardwalk and some boarded-up 60s concrete that hopefully – if it’s lucky – won’t get forgotten about during the renovations. Of course the old Victoriana stuff gets looked after first – that and the Edwardian side-show stuff. 

Asbury Park, New Jersey. Whilst I was there I spoke to an acid-taking cyclist who told me how beautiful some ribbons were. There were a lot of fat guys in too-tight T-shirt’s wearing flip-flops walking little dogs with their wives. 

PENANG, MALAYSIA

Still signs, but this time, from Penang, Malaysia! 

Not because I’ve given up on signs from the USA but because I’m pig-sick of not being able to travel anymore (aren’t we all) and instead of being first-world-problems whiny I’ll just sadly wallow in melancholy whilst flicking through old photos from my past life.

Penang is a terrific place – utterly unique, has a 1930s Opium-den-vibe to it. I wrote a piece at the time – Passport Run: Thailand to Penang

Nope, I have no clue what the signs say either, apart from the first and the last one, obvs. 

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LONG BEACH & ORANGE, CALIFORNIA

THE BEST IN TOWN | What the hell Louis III has got to do with a Burgers drive-thru (sic) is something none of us will probably ever know. Least of all Louis III who died long before the Burger was invented. 

LOUIS III BURGERS | 555 ATLANTIC AVENUE, LONG BEACH CA

BELLFLOWER BAGELS | As featured in my ‘Way to San Jose’ piece in the latest issue of @modernistmag | JOURNEY. 

Established early ‘50s and an example of ‘programmatic architecture’ eg. if it’s a hot dog stand, it looks like a hot dog. It’s a total hoot is programmatic architecture and definitely the least earnest of architectural styles.

…’There is the mandatory conversion of everything into a ‘drive-thru’ (sic) including a drive-thru Jesus followed by coffee and a bagel’…from Way to San Jose piece.

BELLFLOWER BAGELS | 17025 BELLFLOWER BLVD, ORANGE CA 

COCO’S BAKERY RESTAURANT x 3 | Founded in CA in 1948 – business expanded in 1960 and then formalised into a ‘proper’ brand in 1965 and, by the looks of it, never changed its branding again. GOOD. Let’s not overlook that smashing concrete bin.

COCO’S | 28200 S WESTERN AVE, SAN PEDRO, CA

CHAR-BROILED HAMBURGERS | What the f does Char-Broiled mean? To us British people that’s one of life’s greatest mysteries is that.

OMEGA DRIVE IN | 319, W CHAPMAN AVE, ORANGE, CA

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ALBURQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO

MOLLY’S PACKAGE BAR & LOUNGE | 1975 | As featured in my ‘Way to San Jose’ piece in the latest issue of @modernistmag | JOURNEY

The original of this Honky Tonk bar was built in 1952 but it had to move back to make way for the new lnterstate-40 which was to replace Route 66. 

Although it didn’t officially exist anymore the original road was renamed ‘Historic Route 66’ which is where Molly’s Bar & Lounge now sits.

….’Time has lost meaning, the usual day-to-day punctuation is absent and habits loosely associated with day and night are abstract:  Breakfast is served all day; the beer is always cold, rooms are by the hour and conflicting signs often sit right next to each other. ‘Molly’s Bar & Lounge’ – ‘Breakfast Anytime’….from Way to San Jose piece

MOLLY’S PACKAGE BAR & LOUNGE | 546 STATE HIGHWAY 333, TIJERAS, NM 87059, USA

TRAIL RIDER PIZZA | A small trailer on Route 66 next to Molly’s Package Bar & Lounge. Best smelling trailer in the Old West.

 544 STATE HIGHWAY 333, TIJERAS, NM 87059, USA

MONROE’S MEXICAN FOOD | 1962 / 1975 The Monroe is Monroe Sorenson (not Marilyn). The earlier location was Rio Grande & Mountain but was demolished for a hotel and relocated to Loma Blvd – did they take this sign with them or was it new at the time? Dunno.

1025 4TH ST NW, ALBURQUERQUE, NM 87102, USA

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LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA

MARISCOS FAMILY RESTAURANT | ‘Familia and good food’ is all it says about this place on its website – but what else do you need to know? ‘Nowt. I have no idea what the food is like though, I didn’t eat there. It was all about the sign for me.

MARISCOS BRITE SPOT | 412 W PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, LONG BEACH, CA, USA 

$1 CAR WASH | Boarded-up and unloved, this ex-car wash is bound to be gawn by the time I get back to Long Beach. Hope someone nicks the signage before they bring in the bulldozers. I’d buy that for a dollar. (Where’s that from?!)

PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, LONG BEACH, CA, USA

TRAVEL EAGLE INN | Those funny little lamps on top of the motel signs are common in Long Beach, CA. No idea why. In fact, funny lamps like that are common everywhere – not just on Motel signs. So too are those ACE ‘Color TV by RCA’ signs – how I want one

PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, LONG BEACH, CA, USA

….’It was the kind of Motel you’d expect to find in a not-ending-well pulp fiction thriller about an American road trip circa. 1960’….

Taken from The Great American Road: Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn

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ALBUQUERQUE | NEW MEXICO

Starting with an OLD Route 66 / Breaking Bad sign special. 🌵 🌞

Route 66 was established in 1926 – nearly a 100-years ago, bonkers.

The Ford Factory in Detroit had been churning out new-fangled Model T’s since 1908. 

(The UK didn’t manage to squeeze out a Motorway till 1958.) 

Businesses along Route 66 prospered but the highway was removed from the US Highway system in 1985 and completely replaced by a new bypass: the Interstate Highway System. 

Although it didn’t officially exist anymore the original roads were instead renamed ‘Historic Route 66’ a bit of which runs through New Mexico – which is where I picked it up.

The once prosperous businesses aren’t strictly ghost town but they do have a bit of that vibe and are definitely stuck in a kind of weird mid-80s preserved state.

GARCIAS CAFE | 1736 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

1974– also appeared in an episode Breaking Bad. The sign was restored in 2015.⠀

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MAISELS INDIAN TRADING POST | 2004 S Plaza St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

Founded 1923. Featured the artwork of Native American artisans. The building is in the Pueblo Revival style by architect John Gaw Meem.

The murals are original and they depict Native American life, painted by Oliver Rush and several Pueblo and Navajo artists.

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OLD HIGHWAY 66 – marks the original Route 66, post 1985.

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THE DOG HOUSE DRIVE IN | 1216 Central Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102, United States

Appeared in an episode of Breaking Bad. Established 1940s – is the sign from then? Don’t know. Probably not.

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LONG BEACH | CALIFORNIA

Not so long ago I wrote a piece for @monopod about Motels, tbh I could bang on about them all day but here’s a couple of belters from the last month or so.

If I go full 80s Nikki Sixx it’ll be in some sleepy run-down American motel.

Fits the criteria, and my bank balance. (Which is nowhere near Mötley Crüe’s.)

CITY CENTRE MOTEL | 255 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802, USA

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DON’S TURF MOTEL | 4732 Katella Ave, CA 90720

Opened 1959, Los Alamitos CA.

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ANGEL MOTEL | 2330 W Chapman Ave Orange CA 92868

The rather sad, faded glory of Angel Motel, deffo seen better days since it first opened in the 1930s. One of those places that suddenly found itself on top of a roaring freeway exit as the road system evolved around it. In this case, the 57 freeway exit in Orange.

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TRAVEL KING MOTEL | 849 E 7th St Long Beach Blvd CA 90813

I can’t find anything out about this one but these funny little lantern things on top of the sign are quite typical here. ⠀

CHICAGO | ILLONOIS

 

These two are both Chicago – the Alamo shoe store sign is 1971 and features in the piece.

The Jesus Saves is 1940, the Church began as a small mission from the Philadelphia Church in Sweden – 1926 – for the Swedes passing through. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

JESUS SAVES | 5437 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640-1220 ⠀

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ALAMO SHOE STORE | 5322 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 ⠀

 

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CONEY ISLAND | NEW YORK

 

NATHAN’S FAMOUS |1310 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224

Established in 1916 by Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker as a nickel hotdog stand on Coney Island.

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 LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA

‘…Each sign is more than the sum of its informative parts, offering something your Sat Nav will never point you in the direction of: nostalgia.

Signs for gas stations, car-washes, diners, truck-stops and motels – all characterising the look and feel of the particular state they’re obediently introducing…’

This latest crop of signage photos are all featured in my Way to San Jose piece in the latest issue of The Modernist #35 JOURNEY. It’s on sale now, via @modernistmag – link in their profile (not mine).

CHAPMAN CAR WASH  | Chapman Ave Garden Grove CA

Sign is from 1977, other than that I can’t find out much more about it.

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IMG_5412POOL SUPPLIES

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AUTO REPAIR

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All just general signage from Orange and Long Beach. Got to be 60s and 70s?

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