I’m coming back out from winter hibernation and eager to get back on the road. I took a couple of back-to-back weekend trips here in Southern California and I’ve got some photos to share. I’ll be heading to Northern California in a few weeks and then there will be a Reno trip in May. All this is a test to make sure that my van, cameras, and laptop are ready for the biggie summer trip. In June, the five-week trip will focus on the Midwest (Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, etc.).
I’m adding the full batch of photos from these two weekend trips to my website (roadarch.com) now which is my main focus. I’ve also uploaded different photos from these trips over at Flickr:
Let’s start with this detail from the recently discovered and restored Adohr Milk Farms letters in Pasadena, CA:
The Covina Bowl in Covina, CA has been converted to condos but they preserved the entrance and sign:
During the adaptation, the sign was returned to its original look:
The sign looked like this for decades:
The Acres of Books building in Long Beach, CA was built in 1924 as a market. After earthquake damage, it got this streamline look in 1936. The bookstore was here from 1959-2008:
The building remained vacant until it was demolished around 2020, preserving the facade. It looks like it’s finally done:
Catalina Liquor in Los Angeles, CA has a bunch of fun quirky signs:
The nicest of which is directly above the entrance. However, it’s now been tagged and the panel has a big hole. I fear this one won’t be around much longer:
These giant books mark the entrance to the Children’s Library at the Cerritos Library in Cerritos, CA:
This sign at George’s Drive-in in Riverside, CA was recently “restored.” But I have to say that I’m disappointed even though any attempt to preserve signs is a good thing. It was repainted entirely red. It looks like those are new clear bulbs in the circles but I’m skeptical that they chase like they must have originally. The neon was restored but they did a sloppy job with the connecting wires putting them on top of the panels instead of moving those inside the panels:
The sign was previously blue with the insides of the circles in red. You can see the text has also been changed from “Tacos Fries” to “Fries Shakes.” Note that in the new red version, the letters are not outlined but just single stroke on top of the letters.
What’s odd is that there are photos at George’s Instagram account that show the sign fully lit in 2020:
This is what the drive-in itself looks like:
I wish I knew what the sign looked like originally. I did find somewhere that the drive-in opened in 1955 and the sign went up in 1957. However, George’s Instagram and other articles say they opened in 1974. Surely, this sign is from the 1950s. So, maybe this wasn’t the drive-in’s original name. There was an identical sign in San Bernardino, CA which has been further remodeled and doesn’t look like the StreetView image below anymore. I did find an old advertisement online from 1957 with the right address and listed the place as Ted’s Shortstop Drive-in. So, perhaps George’s was a Ted’s Shortstop originally – but I find no evidence of that.
The Hollywood Tower Apartments (in Hollywood, CA) was built as La Belle Tour in 1929. The name was changed in 1942. This sign looks 1920s or 1930s to me. So, it was most likely built then and the raised letters were changed. Either that, or this pole sign was built in 1942 in the style of the original sign:
This neon diver sign was installed at West Hollywood Park (in West Hollywood, CA) in 2021. This sign was based on the 1950 Virginia Court Motel sign in Meridian, MS. That sign was removed in the 1990s and saved by a collector. It was restored and loaned to the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles. The original sign was replicated before it was sold to another collector. The replica was displayed at the West Hollywood “On Route –66 Lights” exhibition. It was put in storage and then temporarily installed at the West Hollywood Pool in 2016. If the sign looks familiar, yes, a second replica was created in 2014 and is displayed on top of MONA’s roof in Glendale, CA. More neon divers can be found at my website here:
The West Los Angeles Civic Center Bandshell in Los Angeles shown below was designed by Albert Criz and built in 1965:
This sign in Los Angeles was built in 2015 for the Mama Shelter hotel:
The Le Trianon Apartments in Los Angeles were built in 1928. I believe this scaffold sign was installed then or soon after. It was definitely there by 1937:
This repurposed Denny’s building and sign from the 1960s are in Fontana, CA:
The Office Bar in San Diego, CA opened in 1948. This sign was built around 2010. I’m assuming the “Bar” in the circle at the bottom alternates with the martini at night:
The Royal Food Mart in San Diego opened in 1944. That sign has gotta be from then or soon after:
This place was a GREAT stop for me AND the dogs. Orbit got some cholla stickers in a foot but I was able to hold him down and get them out quickly. There are dozens of these sculptures in Borrego Springs, CA in the middle of the desert. And you can drive your vehicle around on the sand and let your doggies run free safely. Here’s some info about the place:
The Hotel Churchill in San Diego was built in 1914. There is a giant rooftop sign (I posted a photo at Flickr) from the 1940s which was removed and restored during a building restoration in 2015. That sign went back up in 2016. This sign was created at the same time based on historic photos:
The Convention Center at the Town & Country Resort in San Diego was built in 1969. These orange, black, grey & white tiles had been covered up for decades. They were uncovered around 2020:
Also at the Town & Country Resort, this 15-foot-long diver sign was built and installed in 2020 at the Lapper poolside bar. She is named “Thelma.” Although she’s referred to in articles and by the resort itself as “neon,” obviously that’s cheesy LED strips. But she does look pretty at night anyway:
This nifty midcentury modern building complex (a big round building on the right) houses the Imperial Irrigation District in El Centro, CA:
It was a big walk to get to this (and no dogs allowed on the beach ☹) but I finally toughed it out. This is the Bell Beach Pavilion (aka Mushroom House) in La Jolla, CA from 1968. It’s right on the beach. The homeowners have access via a 300-foot tram elevator down the cliff behind the house:
They repainted the statues in Morongo Valley, CA when Willie Boy’s became Spaghetti Western last year. The horse is now a bright blue:
Last but not least is this place in La Mesa, CA. I posted the incredible rooftop sign at Flickr but this sign is also nice:
Wong’s opened in 1966 and has an incredible interior as well.
That’s it. I’ll be back here in a few weeks with another post from Northern California.
dj & the dogs