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Vintage Neon Sign Slide Show – Philadelphia – This Wed 3/24!

Posted on: March 21, 2010

Those of us in the Philly area are in for a real vintage sign treat, as Len Davidson – owner of Davidson Neon and curator of the Neon Museum of Philadelphia -is giving a slide presentation and discussion of “The History Of Neon in Philadelphia” this Wednesday March 24, 2010, after it was snowed out this past February.

Even cooler is that it is being held at the Philadelphia Center for Architecture, where you can see in real life 13 of these wonderful neon signs all lit up in the satellite location for the Neon Museum.

Photo used by permission of

– For those of you who can’t make the talk you can still see the signs from the Neon Museum at the Center For Architecture during their normal business hours, so make it a stop on your  next visit to Philadelphia! –

I contacted Len a while ago asking him about the original McGillin’s Ale House sign and he was kind enough to give me some details about Thursday’s talk. Starting at 6pm we will learn about the types and history of neon signs, not only ones in the Philadelphia area, but some of the greats from around the country. We’ll also learn about different initiatives for getting the remaining neon signs the recognition they deserve, not only for being colorful and wonderful, but as a part of the folk art of  our past. His beautiful book Vintage Neon, as well as his line of neon sign postcards will be available for purchase.

Photo used by permission of

Len began collecting neon in the 70’s and has collected or helped preserve more than 200 vintage signs, including such distinctive Philadelphia landmark signs as The Reading Terminal Market sign, Pat’s Steaks neon sign and the Levi’s Hot Dogs neon sign among others. I was thrilled to learn that he was responsible for the cheery yellow neon on the marquee of my fave local historic movie house, Phoenixville’s Colonial Theatre!

Photo used by permission of

The Philadelphia Center For Architecture is located just down the street from the famous Reading Terminal Market, so get into town early to pick up a bite to eat (that’s our plan!) there before the talk, absorb the history of this great market, and check out their great neon signs.

The talk is sponsored by The Society of Architectural Historians / Philadelphia Chapter, and AIA Phila Historic Preservation Committee. The cost is $5 for members and $10 for the rest of us.

Neon Museum Satellite Collection
Center for Architecture
1218 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 569-3188

See how close the Neon Museum’s satellite collection is to other cool stuff, click here for the Retro Roadmap!

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  • Beth, when you see Len, tell him I was asking for him. We had a memorable breakfast at the Domino Diner a number of years ago. Did you know the Domino on Umbria Street near the Tower farm? It was formerly Carroll’s Diner of Medford, Mass, between 1948 and 1962.

    • Larry, I did not know the Domino unfortunately. I will definitely give Len your regards, looking forward to the talk! He mentioned Dave Waller during our discussion about New England neon- do they still live in that cool renovated firehouse? I went there eons ago, what a cool place!

  • Wow, I love that slightly scary Buster Brown sign!

  • I’m going to post this on the SCA fb page…

    • Thanks a bunch Rick! Retro Roadhusband and I are very excited we’re able to make this rescheduled talk. Will let you know how it goes!