The vibrant, pulsating lights of neon signs have become synonymous with the bustling energy and glamour of New York City nighttime. For decades, these radiant displays have lit up the city’s streets, beckoning visitors and locals alike with their bold colors and alluring designs. From the iconic red-and-blue Coca-Cola sign in Times Square to the ornate script of “Radio City Music Hall,” neon signs have become a part of the city’s cultural identity, representing the city’s relentless energy and creative spirit.
One of the best ways to explore the world of neon signs in NYC is to take a stroll down historic thoroughfares that have preserved the legacy of these stunning displays. One such destination is the Bowery, an enclave of vintage neon signs that date back to the early 20th century. Here, visitors can see iconic examples such as the 1933 Russ and Daughters appetizing shop sign and the 1940’s giant glowing boxing glove at a sporting goods store. Another must-see is the neon mecca of Times Square, with its towering billboards and flashing lights that offer a captivating sensory overload.
To truly appreciate the craft of neon design, a visit to one of the city’s many neon workshops and studios is a must. These artisans are keeping the art of neon alive, creating everything from custom neon signs to artistic installations. One such workshop is Let There Be Neon in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, which has been crafting neon signs since 1972. Here, visitors can watch skilled artisans bend and shape tubes of glass to create intricate designs, and learn about the history and science behind the neon-making process.
For a unique twist on neon, visitors can also explore the vibrant world of neon art. Many contemporary artists have used neon as a medium to create thought-provoking and visually stunning pieces, such as Keith Sonnier’s “Central Park Blues” sculpture or Tracey Emin’s “I Kiss You” neon work. These pieces can be found in galleries and public spaces throughout the city and offer a new perspective on the endless possibilities of neon.
In the end, exploring the world of neon signs in NYC is a reminder of the city’s enduring creativity and innovation. From the timeless classics to the cutting-edge works of neon art, there’s something for everyone to discover under the neon glow.