Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Downtown I

I finally made it downtown..for neoning purposes anyway. While the area of course, like most major city's downtowns, has some great examples, it is not the most concentrated area of neon. That honor probably belongs to the short north or campus areas. But downtown does have some great neon, and a lot of it. I had been wrestling how to best cover the area. I decided to just head down after work, but before MOST signs would be off (like the previously covered Ho Toy restaurant..sure enough, at 10:30pm, it was as dark as a black hole). I roughly decided to cover the downtown area from Broad Street south to approximately Livingston. The borders of downtown are sorta rough but basically from the Scioto River to I-71, and from Livingston to Goodale. So I figure I can cover downtown in roughly thirds, south, middle, and north downtown. And the Arena district gets it's own coverage, hopefully soon! Since there is a large amount of neon in a relatively dense area, I may miss a few things here and there, and can come back and place them in future 'downtown' tours. And there is the "downtown sleep at 6pm" effect, which means probably the best time for neoning is later in the fall and winter, which is why I tend to do more neoning in fall and winter, with the sun setting early and by December, basically still business hours before the sun goes down. All pictures taken the evening of Mon. 10/13.

Close to I-71, on E. Broad Street.

The Columbus Dispatch sign. One of the most famous and photographed neon signs in the city; in fact two other people were snapping pics of the sign while I was there! The paper is no longer actually printed here, at the corner of Broad and 3rd Streets, but retains some offices in this old building.

Another gem of downtwon, probably tied with the Dispatch sign for most well known neon icon, the Palace Theater sign. One of the oldest theaters in Columbus, it is actually part of the Leveque Tower, which was the tallest building in the city for nearly fifty years, and is probably still the city's signature skyscraper, though no longer the tallest. Many famous actors have graced the stage of the Palace before moving to the bigger and brighter neon of Broadway.

Another of the three remaining major downtown theaters, the Ohio, located on E. State St. between High and S. 4th near the State House. Nothing was playing this evening so I was able to snap it fairly easily.

The only neon adorning the large, rotating, moving, ultradigital new fangled Times Square wannabe "4 on the Square" message system, which was installed last year. It is pretty cool, but sadly, only the Kroger outline and the beer logo are neon, everything else is computer graphix.

Some of the neon of S.3rd St. near E. Main.

Pawn shops, near Main and S. 4th. There are a few more interesting photo ops here, but a few creepy characters were staring at me.

Southern edge of downtown, near the courthouse and Franklin County government offices.

This is about where downtown becomes the Brewery District and German Village. I guess a lot of people get shot at this place.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ho Toy

Neon, of course, advertises many and varied industries..Worship. Drinking. Funeral arrangements. Saukraut Balls. If it is something you eat, drink, or spend any money at all on, neon can advertise it. Two of my favorite things in life make for some of the best examples of classic neon: bowling..and Chinese food. Accross the country Chinese restaurant neon signs have glown brightly pointing hungry diners the way to dim sum, General Tso's, fried rice, etc etc. Sadly, many of these signs have gone dark over the years as have many installations of the twentieth century. Few old fashioned neon Chinese restaurant signs remain in Columbus. This is one. The Ho Toy is located smack dab in the middle of downtown Columbus, Ohio. I have yet to eat here, but I am sure the food is fine. I don't come to this area for the food. That sign! Amazing, all I can say. And it faces three directions. Now I wanted to come at night for the downtown geographic photo tour. Problem with downtown Columbus, is that still, despite the growth and attempts to be a true 'big city', the city is somewhat dull after the workday. I have been in the area at night, to see most restaurants and businesses closed up as early as 7:00PM. That includes the Ho Toy, which last time I went by after dark, the restaurant was obviously closed and the sign was OFF. So I went by a few days ago when I had nothing pressing to do, but no money to do anything else and figured I could catch it while it was gloriously glowing. It was mid afternoon, but it was a cloudy, rainy day so it wasn't too bad. Taken on the afternoon of 10/8.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Morse Rd/Northland

Yeah, I go by this area almost each and every day. I have pretty much covered the area extensively but I guess I neglected a few of the tucked in strip centers in the area that used to be dominated by Northland Mall, which was closed and demolished a few years ago. Northland itself had some cool neon if I recall, but by the end it was pretty dismal, like most dying and dead malls. Yes, dying and decaying retail is another one of my quirky interests. I definitely recommend a visit to this cool site dedicated to dead malls , as well as a visit to the northland area. It had been in decline for some time, but after Morse Road is reconfigured and the former mall site redeveloped, hopefully it will bounce back. All pics were taken the night of Tuesday, 10/7.

Gyro Express is a fast food restaurant located on an outparcel of the Morse Center strip center. I think they have more confidence in their wings, judging from the lit signage. Hair Plus is of course the place to go for all your fake hair needs. Yes, the mannequin head did almost scare me off for a split second.

Behind that stuff on the window the neon reads 'mattress'. When you already have neon, why overstate it with that stuff all over the windows?

Morse Center enterance sign. Like the strip mall itself, this sign probably dates to sometime in the late 70s. The Guitar Center located here was once a Big Bear supermarket. Older Big Bear stores had some cool neon gracing many of their facades, as did their warehouse in Grandview. Too bad the chain has been gone for nearly five years.

These were taken at a strip center at Morse and Karl Roads called the Patio Shops, which of course, dates to sometime in the late 70s. The ATM sign looks pretty old.

Hard to tell from this photo, but this once had very bright neon, with a neon motion arrow pointing the way to the building below. It is a Mexican-American supermarket now. In it's former life it was a fitness equipment retailer and electronic and appliance store called Sun TV, another defunct Columbus chain.

Monday, October 6, 2008

random sampling

So last night on my way home to watch the ALDS I thought I may have had enough time for a quick neon tour but decided against a full tour. I really wanted to see the Sox game. I did watch the game, and they did lose though they are still leading the series two games to one. I caught a few surprises however.

The OSU campus garage signs. I like these because they go back to a time when neon was used for purposes other than advertising, namely as traffic direction. Not as cool as the neon pedestrian signals of 1950s California, or similar warning signs at pedestrian crossings in Baltimore, but cool nonetheless. I believe similar neon signs were at the garages when I was a student at Ohio State over ten years ago, but these seem sorta new.

WWCD, "CD101" studios, located on Front street at the cusp of the Brewery district and downtown. CD101 is an alternative rock station, which plays mostly alternative rock from the 90s and 2000s, and occasionally the 80s. It is also the FM home of the Blue Jackets broadcasts.

While not appearing very interesting at first, this neon 'RESTROOMS" sign actually may be one of the few examples I have of lit neon at a closed/abandoned location. Though I have driven by it literally hundreds of times, the former Fudrucker's on E. Main street near I-270 caught my eye this morning. I turned around and lo and behold, a neon sign was lit up inside! The place has been closed for nearly two years and it obviously is not being developed in any sort of way. Weeds and grass were taking over the parking lot and the labelscars are even starting to fade. It is not in bad shape, but probably not a prime retail/restaurant location. I wonder how long that sign will stay lit, and who is paying for the electricity to light it!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

S.R.256/Pickerington/eastern Reynoldsburg

It was Friday and I was off work a bit early so I figured I could get some neoning in. A cool crisp autumn evening almost screams "SHOOT SOME NEON!". Getting out of the inner city a bit (which I will return to very shortly) I got out to suburbia again, to the State Route 256 corridor, in western Fairfield County. The commercial strip starts in Reynoldsburg near Livingtson (which is actually the 'end' of Livingston) and south into Pickerington. Typical for multilane commercial car oriented strips that circle Columbus, this was a two-lane rural road until ten or fifteen years ago, when the development boom that swept over the nation swept over the Fairfield/Franklin county line, about five miles outside the I-270 outerbelt. Not a heck of a lot of neon in the area, but enough to say I did a photo tour of the area. Perhaps the small old town of Pickerington has some examples, and I do intend of course eventualy to hit the other southeast suburbs such as Canal Winchester and Groveport, so I maybe I will check out other parts of Picktown when I get out there. For now, enjoy the meager but cool neon of 256. All were taken the evening of Friday, 10/3.

Not actually on 256, but Tussing, a cross street..this was taken from I-70 near the 256 interchange.