Pasadena’s Vintage Neon Signs

In decline since their mid-century peak, renovated classic neon signs nevertheless continue to light the Pasadena night.

Neon is gaseous nobility, with a genius for stability— and since the 1920s, a brilliant source of light for commercial signs. When it comes to signage, there are neon signs, and then there are all the rest. Discovered in 1898, neon is one of the noble gases. Six largely inert gases found on the periodic table of elements, neon naturally gives off a bright orange or red light when ionized by electrodes within a tube. Although other gases and elements such as mercury are now used to create other colors, “neon” has come to refer to all such electrical gas-discharge lighting. Achieving peak popularity from the 1920s to the late ‘40s, after which they began to be replaced by fluorescent signage, neon signs are becoming increasingly recognized for their artistic and historic significance. Pasadena is no exception in honoring its glowing past. In fact, the city has put together a driving tour of a number of Pasadena’s vintage neon displays, some dating to the ‘40s. Check it out at

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