Without the small local businesses that made up the urban landscape for the last hundred years, downtown Edmonton would not be what it is today. A striking visual record of our diverse cultural and commercial history exists in the City of Edmonton's collection of beautiful vintage signs. The Edmonton Heritage Council is breathing new life into the iconic antique neon signs that enriched Edmonton's visual culture such as Mike’s News Stand, Georgia Baths, WW Arcade, The Pantages, Princess Theatre, Cliff’s Auto Parts and Canadian Furniture.
Since the discovery of neon in 1898 and the invention of the Moore tube in the early 1900s, neon signs have been made by artisans who hand-bend glass tubes. A cottage industry sprung up between the 1920s and 1960s, when neon signs were most popular. Now, Edmonton is among many cities such as New York and Las Vegas who are restoring their neon signs and building museums for them to live.
David Holdsworth, a heritage planner with the Sustainable Development Department hopes to turn the Telus Building on 104 Street and 104 Avenue into an Outdoor Neon Sign Museum.
“Anyone who has a neon sign from Edmonton’s past is encouraged to donate it … so all Edmontonians can enjoy the art, beauty and heritage preserved in these neon creations.”
He will hold an information session at 7 pm on Tuesday, October 25 at Queen Alexandra School for people who are interested in seeing some of the plans for this illuminating project. v
Chelsea Boos is a multidisciplinary visual artist and avid flâneur. Back Words is a discussion of her dérives and a photographic diary of the local visual culture.