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Look for the Signs: Part 1

The American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, OH

I like to take pictures of signs. I don’t know if my attraction to them is the fun lettering, vivid colors, or the messages displayed. I know when I look back over my photos, each sign sparks a memory of the place I visited. Over the years I have accumulated a sizeable photo collection of street, store, display, and traffic signs. 

When I was planning a trip to Cincinnati last summer, I discovered the city has an American Sign Museum. I quickly moved it to the top of my list of places to visit. It was so much cooler than I had anticipated; on display were electronic, metal, plastic, and neon signs of all shapes and sizes. The museum is also a unique history lesson on American companies. There are more than a centuries’ worth of signs on display, dating back to the late 1800s.

Signs are part of the story of a place. Check out some of my favorites from around the world.

Room of neon signs on display at the American Sign Museum.

Who doesn’t love a flashy neon sign?  But did you know these radiant signs are handmade? The glass tubes are hand bent then filled with neon gas that gives it an orange-red light, or argon gas giving it a blue glow when plugged in to an electric source. Changing the color of the glass will produce other colors.

Cassano's Pizza restaurant in Dayton, Ohio sign on display at the American Sign Museum.

Cassano’s Pizza in Dayton, Ohio and the McDonald’s sign below are both on display at the American Sign Museum. They created the Huntsville Alabama McDonald’s sign in1963. Fun fact, McDonald’s used to call fast-food, Speedee Service System. The character at the top of their sign is Speedee.

Howard Johnson's a.k.a. Ho Jo's was popular in the U.S. during the 60s and 70s.

Street signs in Europe are placed on the side of buildings. In fact, they must conform to standards set by the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals.

Whether you want to proclaim you’re a diva or share words to live by. Signs are one of the best ways to express a sentiment or favorite quote. I took a picture of the “Drama Queen” sign at the Wild Life Cafe, and “Forgive” at Future Hippie Yoga both in Koh Samui, Thailand. I photographed the next two signs in the state of Texas, at the Magnolia Silos Bakery in Waco and the Beer Can House in Houston. “Feelin good, feelin great...”is hanging above the bar in Two Birds Taphouse in Marietta, GA, the words are lyrics from an OutKast song. “You’re ice cool,” is a sign I saw while in Atlanta, GA.

Restaurants, coffee shops, and brewery signs are some of the more fun ones to capture. These were taken around the world.

Fun fact about Miss Molly's (centre sign): Miss Molly's opened in 1910 as a boarding house. It later became a brothel and is now the oldest Bed & Breakfast in Fort Worth.

Check back on Friday, for part II of "Look for the Signs." Do you find yourself taking pictures of signs too?

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