People sometimes ask me about my favorite sign, neon or otherwise. It’s hard to pick just one, but here are a few of my favorites.
Boston’s Allston-Brighton neighborhood has lost some amazing signs over the years: a giant Coca-Cola sign, a neon Dunkin’ Donuts sign, and the Circle Cinema. Twin Donuts is one of the survivors, and it’s a vision in pink.
I’ve heard several theories about the name for this landmark in Allston’s Union Square, but the most credible version comes from Bill Anthony, co-owner of the near-by Model Cafe (which was named after a 1940s federal economic program). He told Wicked Local that he and his twin brother were the namesakes for the doughnut shop when they were born in 1953.
Hilltop Steak House
How can you not like a giant neon cactus in the middle of Massachusetts? The Hilltop Steak House opened on Route 1 in Saugus in 1961 sporting that massive cactus and a herd of fiberglass cattle.
Charles S. Magliozzi designed the sign, which contained 210 fluorescent light bulbs and nearly half a mile of neon tubing. And while the restaurant closed in 2013, the sign will live on as part of the new development planned for the site.
I don’t know a lot about this suburban drive-in theater, which is located on Route 20 in Shrewsbury. It opened sometime in the mid-1950s and closed about 50 years later.
The site has been abandoned since then but a recent news article indicated some interest in building a mixed-use development on the site.
What’s not on the list? CITGO. It’s iconic, it’s beloved, I photograph it all the time, and I’m thrilled that it will stay put. Maybe it’s sacrilege to say this but, for me, signs like the Hilltop, Twin Donuts, and Edgemere have a quirky style and vintage appeal that is missing from the CITGO sign.
CITGO aside, there are plenty of runners-up on my list, and I’ll feature them in future posts. Till then, I’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite signs?