Monday, September 13, 2010

Neon Nights - Route 1 between DC and Laurel

As a long time fan of roadside architecture and especially the road side signage that still exists in some abundance I'll catalogue some regional gems. To effectively find it lost in the urban sprawl and gentrification of the DC metro area the conniseur will best be rewarded by traveling the, what are now secondary highways, the older routes which existed prior to the interstate system.  Route 1 of course boasts the entire eastern seaboard and allows one to drive its full length from Maine to Florida if you don't 763,746 traffic lights along the way.  Of course now the route is replaced by Route 95 which is great in coveying travelers rapidly but offers little in the way of commercial eye candy.

Living in Takoma Park MD, I'm in close proximity to the stretch of road that goes through Hyttsville, College Park, Beltsville and Laurel MD.  In fact the following gems are some of my favorites.  Headed North from DC, the first stop has to be the recenlty revived Hyattsville.  I love the plethora of 40s and 50s architecture, from Lustines automotive neon sign (now thankfully saved as part of a gym), to the crumbling gas stations with their stylized lines and old advertising.  The first honey of a sign belongs to Vet's Liquors which is found in Beltsville on the left hand side.  This looks to me like post WWII era and the novelty of it is first rate, just enough mix between industrial and folk art.  I have to say, I've never seen a sign which utilizes light bulbs for eyes.

Next up on my favorite list is the Giant Food sign from the parking Lot in Laurel in which George Wallace was wounded in an assignation attempt while running for President.  The sign is magestic and according to local followers prone to humerous word arrangements when the bulbs go out.

Laurel is also home to an original Arby's giant hat sign - all dancing bulbs and enormous presence, you can't miss these - fast disappering from our landscape.

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