Exploring LA's neon past
Circus Liquor, North Hollywood
Remember the abandoned parking lot where Alicia Silverstone’s character, Cher, was robbed and forced to lay down on the pavement in the movie Clueless? It was filmed outside Circus Liquor, an infamous wine and spirits superstore located on the corner of Burbank Boulevard and Vineland Avenue, and advertised by a giant vintage-style neon clown. "The massive Circus Liquor store can seem like a nightmare," Lynxwiler said. "But I adore the sign for its scale and its combo of plastic and neon signage."
Helms Bakery Complex, Culver City
The onetime home of Helms Bakery, an industrial bakery established in 1931 and located on the corner of Helms Avenue and Washington Boulevard, is now a fashionable furniture and home design shopping complex. Though the bakery closed in 1969, the landmark building and its animated neon sign remain. The red, white and blue sign reads “Helms Olympic Bread, Choice of Olympic Champions”, a nod to the bakery’s designation as the Official Bread of the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. "It's not just a sign, it's a spectacular," said Lynxwiler. (Notably, Helms also claimed to have the first bread on the moon -- the bakery supplied bread to the astronauts of Apollo 11 shortly before its closing.
Canter's Deli, Hollywood
Serving pastrami sandwiches around the clock, the Jewish-style Canter’s Deli is a Los Angeles institution. The Art Deco neon sign above the entrance spells out “Open All Night, Canter’s Restaurant Bakery Delicatessen” in glowing green and yellow letters. "The signage on that building represents its eras," Lynxwiler said. "And it's got a long tale to tell." The story starts with three Canter brothers -- poor New Jersey boys -- moving to California and starting a modest delicatessen in 1931. By the 1950s, Canter’s was serving late-night sandwiches to the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller.
The Neon Cruise runs on Saturday evenings from June through September. The tour continues even as the Museum of Neon Art itself -- the only museum in the world dedicated to both historic neon signs and modern neon art -- is closed while moving to a much larger (and permanent) space in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale. The museum’s executive director, Kim Koga, said that future visitors to the museum can expect to see a neon fabricating facility, a glass furnace that shows how neon tubes were originally made by hand, exhibits of vintage neon signs, themed light art exhibits and interactive displays covering the early era of electricity. The Neon Cruise will continue to operate from downtown Los Angeles even after the new museum opens.
Los Angeles with Lonely Planet
Photos & videos