Neon Signs Along Wilshire Boulevard
(and other places in the Los Angeles area)

"Urban renewal can sometimes be an expensive proposition: tearing down entire districts, constructing vast public works, cutting through neighborhoods with freeways and boulevards. Urban renewal can sometimes function as moral renewal by tapping into better identities, energized by the best imperatives of culture and religion. Sometimes, urban renewal can be as simple as the relighting of a neon sign on Wilshire, Hollywood or Sunset boulevard, lights that recover the past and point to an equally bright urban future. Remnants of a lost Los Angeles, city of the mind, remembered and yearned for, the neon lights of L.A.--celestial fires of another sort, green, gold, ruby red, electric blue--guide us down the Wilshire corridor, up through Hollywood and out along Sunset Boulevard west. If Paris is the City of Lights, L.A. is the City of Neon, possessed of a comparable (yet antithetical) beauty and capable as well, like all great cities, of giving rise in the magic of the night to hungers of body, mind and spirit." (Kevin Starr, "Landscape Electric; A program that renews the city's urban spirit byrelighting Philip Marlowe's neon L.A." Los Angeles Times, July 4, 1999.

Under Adolfo Nodal, then general manager of the city's Cultural Affairs Department, dozens of old neon signs along the Wilshire corridor have been restored and relit. This project, called LUMENS (an acronym for Living Urban Museum of Electric and Neon Signs but also a play on the Latin word for light), costs $400,000. The next stage is to light 43 historic signs in Hollywood.

  • Text from A Guide to Neon Lights Along the Wilshire Corridor brochure. Produced in partnership with the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and the California Institute of the Arts.
  • List of Buildings with Historic Neon Signs:

    Western Avenue area:

    Normandie Avenue area:

    Vermont Avenue area:

    Alvarado Avenue area:


    In addition, there are downtown neon signs slated for re-lighting through the Lumens Project:


    Examples of other neon signs in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles:





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    Unless otherwise specified, photos are taken by Ruth Wallach
    Page maintained by Ruth Wallach, USC Libraries

    8/2016