Neon signs have an enduring charm that transcends generations. These luminous beacons of light have graced city streets and storefronts for decades, captivating passersby with their vibrant hues and distinctive glow. Behind their mesmerizing allure lies a rich tapestry of history and craftsmanship, making Old neon signs not just markers of businesses, but cultural icons in their own right.

The Birth of Neon Signs: A Glimpse into the Past

The story of old neon signs begins in the early 20th century, with the discovery of neon gas by French chemist Georges Claude in 1910. This breakthrough paved the way for the development of neon lighting, which soon found its way into commercial applications. The first neon sign in the United States, famously proclaiming “Packard” for a car dealership in Los Angeles, debuted in 1923, marking the beginning of a neon revolution.

Rise to Popularity: Neon’s Golden Age

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, neon signs became synonymous with urban nightlife and modernity. Their vibrant colors and striking designs adorned theaters, diners, and hotels, transforming cityscapes into dazzling displays of light after dark. Each sign was a unique work of art, crafted by skilled glassblowers who bent and shaped tubes of glass to form letters and shapes, then filled them with neon or other noble gases to produce a luminous effect.

Cultural Icons: Neon Signs in American History

During their heyday, old neon signs became more than just advertisements—they became landmarks and symbols of American culture. From the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to the neon-lit streets of Times Square, these signs defined the aesthetics of their era and reflected the spirit of their surroundings. They were integral to the visual identity of businesses, lending a sense of nostalgia and authenticity that continues to resonate with collectors and enthusiasts today.

Decline and Revival: Preserving Neon Heritage

By the mid-20th century, the advent of cheaper, more energy-efficient alternatives like fluorescent and LED lighting led to a decline in traditional neon sign craftsmanship. Many iconic signs were taken down or replaced, their intricate designs fading from city streets. However, in recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in preserving and restoring old neon signs. Organizations dedicated to neon sign preservation work tirelessly to rescue these luminous artifacts from obscurity, ensuring that future generations can appreciate their beauty and historical significance.

Collecting and Appreciating Old Neon Signs Today

For collectors and aficionados, old neon signs are cherished pieces of Americana. Each sign tells a story of craftsmanship and creativity, offering a glimpse into the past while adding a touch of retro charm to modern spaces. Whether adorning a personal collection or serving as focal points in museums and galleries, these signs continue to captivate and inspire, reminding us of a bygone era when neon reigned supreme in the world of advertising and urban aesthetics.


Old neon signs are more than just lights—they are symbols of innovation, artistry, and cultural heritage. From their humble beginnings to their current status as prized collectibles, these luminous relics continue to shine bright, illuminating the past and preserving a colorful chapter in the history of American signage.

For more about the allure of old neon signs and where to find them, visit Road Relics, where history meets nostalgia in every glowing tube.