Like Nu

Like Nu Auto Paint Works

Some scans of photos I took while visiting Dallas in March 1995.

Southern Apartments - Hotel Rooms - Steam Heat

Keeney's Office Equipment Co.

I wonder how many of these signs are still around? A quick internet search for some of the business names failed to find much.

Anything of Value


Billares La Sandia

Most of these photos were taken while walking around Deep Ellum, but I wish I could remember exactly where they were taken.

fighting ants


West Chicago Avenue

Loop Tavern

A short bike tour along Chicago Avenue to photograph the old signs there.

Cafe Central

I like the lettering of the Cafe Central sign.

Mr. Moose's Youth Center

Cat on the Table

Some fun details of hand painted signs and murals along the street. A cat dances on a table for a cockatiel and several sad-faced dogs who would rather be playing poker.

Fashion Box

At the Fashion Box, a palimpsest of a prior tenant. Instead of the transient lettering wearing away, this time it is the white ground that has been eroded to the plastic sign below.

Skippy's Red Hots

Skippy's Red Hots

Across the street is Skippy's Red Hots, one of the smallest storefront businesses in the city. The tiny building looks like an afterthought. Perhaps the narrow gap between larger structures was once an alley?


Alcala's Western Wear is well known for its caballero style, and advertised by plastic cowboys on horseback outlined in neon.

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Traveling farther west on Chicago Avenue into Ukranian Village, many of the businesses and signs switch languages and alphabets.

Love is

I may adore pizza, but I hate that awful "Love Is" cartoon. At least the little guy kept his clothes on for dinner this time.

Standee's Closing

Standee's Coffee Shop

After 60 years, local landmark Standee's Coffee Shop closed its doors today. A Chicago Tribune article reports that the property owners intend to replace the diner with a "casual" restaurant serving "organic" food.

Another article in the Lake Effect News tells more details of the restaurant's closing, and the many diners who have become fans of the little diner over the years.

Hopefully the fabulous neon sign will be saved, but it will be sorely missed.

Roadside Chicago in 3D

I've just received several boxes delivered from the printer. Its the packaging for a new Wurlington Press project: 3D View-Master reels with photos of Chicago signs and roadside architecture. Each reel includes seven 3D photos, and comes with a small booklet telling the history of the signs and businesses pictured. The three subjects are: Motels of Lincoln Avenue, Chicago Hot Dog Stands, and Route 66 in Chicago.

The three reels should be available for sale within the next week or two when the View-Master reels are ready.

You can read more about the project at the Wurlington Press View-Master page.

Forgotten Neon

Forgotten Chicago takes a look at some beautiful neon signs in the Chicago area.

Salon of Beauty

Some photos from a recent bike trip looping west and north toward Lincoln Avenue:

Dairy Bar

Abandoned Dairy Bar. This one's not just closed for the season.

Quick as a Wink Service

Clementi Printing features a beaming advertising character.

Renee's Salon of Beauty

Renee's sign surely is a thing of beauty. The storefront on Addison is now occupied by Aurelia Beauty Salon, but thankfully they have retained the classic neon from the previous business.

White Star Cleaners

Too bad the White Star Cleaners sign lost all its neon tubing. The enormous arrow wedge looks similar to the old Tip Top Motel sign on Lincoln, but its hard to tell just what the lost neon might have looked like.

Chicago Neon Signs

On a recent neighborhood art walk I visited the studio of photographer Dan Zamudio and got a chance to see his photographs of Chicago neon signs. The photos are taken with a plastic Diana camera, which induces a bit of lo-fi distortion to the images from the plastic lens.

Most of the photos are of lit neon against deep blackness, though some are of defunct signs shot in moody daylight, as if taken on a dreary rainy day. Some of the images are multiple-exposures of one or several signs, reminiscent of a film noir montage of some boozy spree from one cocktail bar to another.

With the jaunty angles, blurry edges caused by the toy camera, and multiple exposures, the series feels more personal than documentary recording of all the remnant neon signs around the city.

A book of the photographs was recently published by Wicker Park Press.

Pilsen Graphics

The Pilsen neighborhood has a long history as an immigrant community, for the last 30 years as a predominantly Hispanic area. Most businesses cater to recent immigrants of limited means, with plenty of dollar stores, thrift shops and plain bakeries along every busy street.

El Dollar +

Such humble businesses rarely support elaborate advertising, but if you look closely there are some small scenes of graphical interest, such as the dated clip art on the Love Fashion clothing store.

Love Fashion

A barber shop where Lego figurines can go for a trim.

Super Express

Three little cannibal pigs torture one another on the Carnitas Uruapan butcher shop. Do you feel hungry?

Carnitas Uruapan

Route 66 in 3D

Get out your red-cyan 3D glasses to see these photos of signs along Route 66 on its way out of Chicago. The Castle Car Wash looks like its been closed a long time.

Castle Car Wash

Crossing over into Cicero we pass the Cindy Lyn Motel, with its off-balance artist's pallette of a sign.

Cindy Lyn Motel

Henry's hot dogs are served with a pile of french fries on top.


On the edge of the country, Snuffy's Grill serves up fried eggs and burgers 24 hours a day.

Snuffy's Grill

Armitage Avenue

Here are some signs spotted on a recent bike trip west down Armitage Avenue. First, a dubious clown on the wall of a storefront church.

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La Perla bakery's sign pictures luscious cookies and cakes in soft airbrush graphics.

La Perla Pyramid

Is this sandwich shop a place to write home about? Or just a place to meet up with close food friends?

Dear Sub

An auto repair shop with folksy mural painted on the wall next door.



The Groves Bakery sign is a real winner. But I wonder how the huge thermometer at the bottom fits in. Wouldn't it be more appropriate on an ice cream shop? Does a reminder of how hot it is outdoors encourage passersby to stop in for cakes or cookies? Sadly, even under Curlie's management the bakery has closed again.

Groves Bakery

I like the elaborate scaffolding structures used to hold up many small signs such as this one at A&R Foods. The cluster of word boxes and light strips is stitched together by bars and chains meant to be invisible behind the sign's message.

Food Mart

I always meant to stop by Al's Fun in the Bun. It was just another of the many hot dog joints here in Chicago, with a silly name and a neat sign out in front, like Fluky's, or Superdawg, quirky fast food architecture from the 1960s & 70s. The eyecatching thing was the sign, a tall plastic and metal flat icon of a grilling fork holding a huge red Vienna beef hot dog high as proud emblem. But I never got a photo, don't know if I ever even ate there. Now its space is occupied by a plain Chinese restaurant.

So before missing a chance to see these other signs and places, here are some other favorite city graphics in Chicago.

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Copyright 2007 Matt Bergstrom