[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | iBooks[/alert]
Thomas Rinaldi wanted to photograph old neon New York signs before they all disappear. This was a labor of love, since he also researched the maker of each sign and the installation date. Signage began as gaslight fixtures, but Edison’s invention of incandescent lamps ended the need for gaslights. The first electrical commercial billboard appeared in 1892 and neon gas was discovered in 1898, but using neon for commercial purposes evolved slowly. By 1928, neon signs swept the country, and they were everywhere in New York by 1930.
“Neon signs are not unique to New York. They came to America by way of Europe and went on to proliferate along small-town Main Streets and the Las Vegas Strip, Route 66, and the highway interchange.”
Following his introduction, Rinaldi separates the book into boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Based on exhaustive research, information and history is provided for many of the neon examples. Full-color photos show the versatility of the neon sign in the New York landscape. Rinaldi offers the reader tons of history, examples and insight on present day preservation efforts. This reviewer is doubtful she will ever again look at neon signs the same way.
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