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(NorCal cities, highways, restaurants, museums, architecture, historic attractions, vintage neon signs, roadside attractions, etc.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sacramento's Vintage Neon Signs

[Other Sacramento neon sites of interest:

Agilitynut's Sacramento page

Roadside Peek's Sacramento search

What the monkey did the 15th week of his year

20080309 Sammy's Astro Club
R.I.P Astro Club Neon

Radio City Music Hall was my first photograph of a neon sign, back in 1986, and I shot some neon at night in Italy in 1987. But my hobby of photographing vintage neon signs (and occasionally vintage signs that aren't neon, or new neon signs, but it is the vintage neon that is my favorite) started innocently enough when I was pursuing a totally different obsession.

My high school friend from Montana, Eric, came to visit me in Davis in July of 2000 while his wife attended a conference in Berkeley. He had got me started on the hobby of collecting "classic" or "vintage" video game systems--you know, what was, at the time, garage sale, thrift store, or dumpster items, and now is eBay gold. I took him on a whirlwind tour of thrift stores in the greater Sacramento area, and it truly is one of the best cities in the country for thrift store shopping.

In West Sacramento we stopped at the Goodwill (now long gone) and he pointed to the sign for Sammy's Astro Club and commented that it was cool. I handed him my compact 35mm camera and told him to take a picture of it. Later he pointed at a vintage plastic sign that we drove by and commented on it as well. That's what made me start noticing these signs.

That fall I got a new APS camera with 3X zoom, and it came with 10 rolls of film. I was used to shooting one roll of film a year. What was I going to do with all this film? I started exploring Northern California using guide books and taking pictures of old buildings. Architectural photography had always been my primary interest when traveling. But this time, I started shooting the old signs as well.

In 2001, I got a digital camera, but my hobby was put on hold that fall by severe back pain that knocked me out of commission for a year. I took a handful of neon shots in 2003 and 2004. And then in 2005, I read about Flickr in Consumer Reports, and decided to join to share my baseball photos and all the family photos I had scanned. But I wasn't using much of my pro account's capacity. And then I remembered my old neon shots.

I posted them and Mike, who goes by illtakeyourphoto!, discovered them, and became my first Flickr contact. He used to live in Sacramento, and was also a vintage neon photographer. Through him I met several other people with similar interests, and it stimulated me to return to shooting neon.

At first I had no idea what I was doing with a camera, and was just interested in preserving the image of the sign. I ran around shooting everything. In the time since, I've had the luxury of going back and revisiting the subjects, and have been trying to improve my photographs. So here's a little rundown of what the city has, or, in some cases, had, to offer.

Click on small images to see larger ones, and sometimes additional information.

I've excluded Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Roseville, Folsom, Freeport, Davis, Woodland, and farther outlying areas for brevity, although they probably are considered part of the Sacramento metropolitan area. I'll write other blog entries for those (well, probably not Elk Grove, which I'm hoping will just disappear from the face of the earth).

I've divided the signs by 6 regions, Downtown, Midtown, East Sacramento, North Area, South Area, and West Sacramento. Within those regions I have put an additional header for a street that I have blogged or will blog separately. When I have already written a blog entry on a street, I have not included additional details in this entry, but have instead provided a link to that blog entry.

In the case of old signs that have had the neon broken off and been repainted before I got to photograph them, I have only included ones that I still find interesting. There are still a few of those I want to photograph but have not gotten to yet.


Before the mass popularity of the automobile and the building of freeways, people had to live close together in an efficient manner, and "Kay Street" was the main street of Sacramento. But suburbia, modern "drive in shopping centers," and shopping malls killed K Street. Following the popular thinking of the time, city officials tried to revive it by choking off access to it--the pedestrian mall was a common fix used disastrously all over the country. The city is still clinging to this idea.

20080322 Fong Liquor
Fong Liquor Store
1126 I Street
Status: extant

Probably from the 1940s. In 1948, this was Fong Liquor No. 3, the other 2 being on J and K Streets.

20080503 Ramona Hotel, 1930
Ramona Hotel
600 J Street
Status: extant

Circa 1930.

20080706 Neon Shoe
United Cobblers
912 J Street
Status: extant

This sign was a mystery to me for a long time. When I first photographed it, there was an art studio directly below it. I thought it probably went with the studio, and was new art. But it stayed when the art studio left and a tattoo parlor moved in, so that didn't make sense to me. I researched it and found that United Cobblers were located there from 1959 or 1960 until they closed in 1998. According to a Sacramento Bee article, the business moved a few times, and was likely originally founded in 1928.

But then the artist who created it, Derek Smith, commented on my photo on Flickr. He created it for the Art in Public Places Project of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. It was commissioned by the Downtown Partnership, and meant to be "coherent with the business," which was United Cobblers, at the time.

So it's not all that old, but it is magnificent, and I'll leave it in this blog entry for anyone else who is wondering about its origins.

20080130 Rodney's Cigars & Liquors
Rodney's Cigar & Liquor Store
1000 J Street
Status: extant

Rodney's has been at this address since at least 1982, but earlier was a block east, at 1100 J Street from at least 1948 to 1970. They don't appear in the 1938 Yellow Pages, so 1938 to 1948 is probably when they opened for business.

Fred Mayes Jewelers
Fred Mayes Jewelers
1006 J Street
Status: base extant, but no neon and radically altered

The clock still looks the same, but all the neon tubes have been broken off the main sign and it has been painted over.

20070604 Fred Mayes Clock

According to two sources I have seen, the clock dates from 1925. Dan Flynn's Inside Guide to Sacramento says that the clock was originally for Tom B. Monk's jewelry shop at 1006 J Street. Monk was also mayor of Sacramento from 1938 to 1945. His shop operated here from the 1940s until 1963, when Fred Mayes bought the jewelry store. But Monk originally had his shop on 1009 K Street, and in 1925 the business was Wiesen & Monk Jewelers. By 1929, Wiesen and his new partner Bailey were operating elsewhere, while Monk continued to operate on K Street under just his name.

If the clock is from 1925, it was probably moved and has been altered a couple of times. It's likely that the neon was added at a later date, as neon signs were only introduced commercially in 1923.

20080706 Sacramento Sewing
Sacramento Sewing
1022 J Street
Status: extant

The business operated here from at least 1953 to 1996. The 1948 Yellow Pages places them across the street, at 1021 J Street.

20040508 Masonic Temple
Masonic Temple
1123 J Street
Status: extant

Building circa 1920, but that predates the commercial production of neon signs in 1923.

20040902 Crest Theatre
Crest Theatre
1013 K Street
Status: extant

While retaining the shell of the older Hippodrome Theatre, the Crest as it is opened on October 6, 1949. The theater was closed from 1979-1986, but seems to be doing well now. For additional photos of this gem of a theater, click here.

2000 Espresso Metro
Espresso Metro
1030 K Street
Status: kaput

It couldn't have been a very old sign, but it was cool, and is now long gone.

20060218 The Broiler
The Broiler
1201 K Street
Status: extant

This restaurant was an institution at 1013 J Street from around 1950 into the 1990s, but they picked up and moved to a new building. Now you have to walk inside the lobby to see the classic sign.

20061028 Esquire Imax Marquee
Esquire Imax Theatre
1211 K St.
Status: extant

Up the street from the Crest, the neon marquee for the Esquire Theatre is still there, even though the place was gutted and is now an Imax theater, and recently requested subsidies from the city. The original Esquire Theatre opened March 15, 1940. I have a few more photos of the theater here.

20081003 Greyhound
Greyhound Bus Lines
715 L Street
Status: extant, threatened

The building was constructed in 1937, but expanded and remodeled in 1947. Plans are to move the Greyhound Station to a new transportation center. I'm guessing this building would then be demolished, since a high-rise would be more profitable.

20070211 Hotel Berry
Hotel Berry
729 L Street
Status: extant

20081006 Posey's
Posey's Cottage
1100 O Street
Status: extant

This was a longstanding meeting place of California politicians and lobbyists until it became the victim of construction--work on the light rail and other projects made it inconvenient to get to, and difficult to park near. It started losing $15,000-$30,000 a month and closed. Today some of the interior furnishings can be seen in the nearby California Museum. It moved around a bit when first opened, but settled at this address by 1961.

20090309 Downtown Garage
Downtown Garage
501 T Street
Status: extant, no neon

Currently JC Auto Service, this has been Hashisaka Brothers Garage (1960s), Tom's Auto Repair (1956), and Mike's Auto Service (1953), but the sign looks to be even older than that. I've seen a photograph of a nearly identical sign in a book on Stockton.

20080706 Hotel Marshall

and around the corner:

20080820 Hotel Marshall
Hotel Marshall
1122 7th Street
Status: extant

Originally built as the Clayton Hotel in 1911, it was still listed as the "New" Clayton Hotel in 1947, but by 1948 was the Hotel Marshall.

1130 7th Street
The Hof Brau
Status: base extant, but no neon and radically altered

It operated here from at least 1938 to 1996.

20070901 Old Ironsides
Old Ironsides
1901 10th Street
Status: extant

The bar opened shortly after prohibition ended in the 1930s.

E-Z Coin Wash
Corner of 10th and T
Status: extant, no neon

20071223 Schroeder's Shoe Repair
Dun Rite Shoe Repair
2022 10th Street
Status: extant, no neon

Now Schroeder's Shoe Repair, Dun Rite Shoe Repair dates back to at least the 1940s, when it was at 1325 1/2 5th Street. They appear to have moved to 10th around 1958.

20080521 Lim's Market
Lim's Market
2100 10th Street
Status: extant, no neon

Dates back to at least 1948.

20080211 Wakano Ura Chop Suey
Wakano Ura Chop Suey
2217 10th Street
Status: extant

The restaurant has been there since the late 1950s, but is even older than that, as it used to be at 1219 1/2 4th Street, and even before that was at 1224 3rd Street in 1938.

20081018 Jim-Denny's
Jim and Denny's Restaurant No. 2
816 12th Street
Status: extant

Now called just Jim Denny's, it is listed in early directories as Jim and Denny's, after the proprietors, Jim Van Nort and Dennis McFall. It is a vintage diner with just a few stools at a counter that used to be open 24 hours to serve people near the bus station. From what I can glean from Sacramento Bee articles, Jim and Denny opened their first restaurant at 907 16th St. in 1934, and opened the present location in 1940. Jim Van Nort cooked at the restaurant until 1988, when he retired and underwent coronary surgery. The restaurant only stayed closed a few months before opening under new ownership. I know it has been closed for at least one stretch since then, after another ownership change. Jim Van Nort died in 2001.

20081003 Jim-Denny's

20040820 Torch Club
Torch Club
15th Street
Status: extant

The Torch Club is still in business after 70 years, just not where it used to be. In 1982, it was at 1612 L Street. In the 1960s, it was at 730 L Street. Before that it was at 601 J Street. Like every classic bar, it opened just after prohibition ended.

20050731 Cabana Lodge
Cabana Lodge
16th Street
Status: kaput

The motel is still there, but the owner chose to get a small, plastic, back-lit sign rather than repair this one.

20051126 Simon's
1415 16th Street
Status: extant

Not vintage, although it certainly looked that way to me. Simon's only opened in 1984. Perhaps they reused part of the sign from the old Donner Club, which used to be there.

20061210 Mercury Cleaners
Mercury Cleaners
1419 16th Street
Status: extant

Circa 1946-1947.

20071223 Family Laundry
Family Laundry
2110 16th Street
Status extant

And right nearby is Harry's Cafe, which has a retro sign.

20080902 Flame Club
Flame Club
2130 16th Street
Status: extant

A bar opened here shortly after the repeal of prohibition under the ownership of Anthony J. Nevis, but I haven't been able to determine if it was called the Flame Club. Certainly the sign appears to date from the 1930s or 1940s. The first year that the city directories use business names consistently rather than the names of owners, 1953, has it listed as the Flame Club. It looks like a seedy dive bar from the outside, but it is currently patronized by the young and affluent, and has an extensive selection of microbrew beers.

20061209 Cardenas Cigars
Cardenas Cigars
2201 16th Street
Status: extant

It's a vintage business, but this is a new location for it. I'm not sure if the sign is old or new.


20051221 New Roma Bakery
New Roma Bakery
1800 E Street
Status: extant

It has been New Roma since at least 1960, but the 1953 directory just lists the location as "J.G. Petrovich, baker."

20070623 Sam's Hof Brau/Hamburger Mary's
Sam's Hof Brau
1630 J Street
Status: extant

It closed around 1993 and became Hamburger Mary's and then Hamburger Pattie's.

20050807 Wessler Body and Paint Shop
Wessler Body and Paint
2011 J Street
Status: extant

20080913 D.R. Woodard & Pink Clouds
D.R. Woodard Cleaners
2201 J Street
Status: extant

Detail shot:
20071108 D.R. Woodard

20080905 Al Nielsen's Big O Tires
Al Nielsen
1615 L Street
Status: extant

I need to research this one. Possibly this is a vintage sign with a new "Big O Tires" addition.

20050722 Distillery
The Distillery
2107 L Street
Status: extant

Okay, there's no neon on this one, but I love those old multi-bulb cocktail glasses.

20050803 W.F. Gormley & Sons
W.F. Gormley & Sons Funeral Chapel
2015 Capitol Avenue (formerly M Street)
Status: extant

DeLux Barber Shop
1902 P Street
Status: extant

Now part of the Zebra Club.

20051215 The Press Club
Press Club
2030 P Street
Status: extant

Only the "BANQUET ROOMS" part is neon, presumably a holdover from when this was Dick and Eddie's.

20071227 Round Corner
Round Corner
2333 S Street
Status: extant

The neon was recently repaired and it was given a fresh coat of paint.

Crystal Ice Cold Storage Co.
Photo by Ken Bennett
Crystal Ice
1812 17th Street
Status: ???

A friend at work gave me this photo. I never saw the sign lit--when I found it, it was leaning up against a wall behind a chained link fence. It is no longer there, but I believe my friend Dave van Hulsteyn may have made a deal with a developer to restore it. My shot:
20061112 Crystal Ice

20070424 John Ellis Auto Repairing
John Ellis & Son
910 19th Street
Status: extant

I think Dave van Hulsteyn repaired this one recently.

20050722 A&P 21st St. Liquor Store
A&P 21st Street Liquor Store
1101 21st Street
Status: extant, no neon

20080820 Lucky Cafe
Lucky Cafe
1111 21st Street
Status: extant

20060123 Town House
Town House Restaurant of Sacramento
1517 21st Street
Status: extant

20060216 Coronet Portraits
Coronet Portraits
2116 21st Street
Status: extant

Before moving into the upscale home at this location, Coronet Portraits was at 904 J Street in the 1950s, but the sign looks to be older still. I've never seen it that way, but here's a shot of it lit.

20051215 Pine Cove
Pine Cove Tavern
509 29th Street
Status: extant

20080122 Swanson's Cleaners
Swanson's Cleaners
830 29th Street
Status: extant

It's protected behind plastic, so it ought to work fine, but I've never seen it lit.

East Sacramento
East Sacramento is neatly defined by the borders of the Capital City Freeway (or , currently Business 80) to the west, U.S. Route 50 to the south, and the American River to the north and east.

20090119 Luis's Mexican Food
Luis's Mexican Food
1218 Alhambra
Status: extant, but threatened

Luis Leyva was a Mexican immigrant who 5 times was deported before landing permanently in the United States. After being chef at the Mexico City Cafe in Stockton, he opened up Luis's in 1965. He was well known for his charitable work, and for all the photos hanging in the restaurant of him posing with anyone of note who ate there. The restaurant closed in September of 2004, less than a year after Luis's death, and there are plans to demolish it and put in a drugstore.

Luis Jr. opened a restaurant called Luis Jr.'s in 2004 in the old Ramona Hotel building, only to have the Church of Scientology purchase the building to use as their Sacramento headquarters. The small sign there is similar to the larger sign for his father's restaurant, and hopefully he will take it with him and open a new restaurant after negotiating a buyout on his lease.

20060129 Luis Jr.'s

20071209 Former Regal Petroleum
Regal Petroleum Corporation
3201 Folsom Boulevard
Status: extant, but no neon

20070426 Philipp's Bakery
Philipp's Bakery
3300 Folsom Boulevard
Status: extant

20051101 East Lawn Cemetery
East Lawn Cemetery
4300 Folsom Boulevard
Status: extant

20071120 Hilltop
Hilltop Tavern
4757 Folsom Boulevard
Status: extant

20051101 Socal's Tavern
5200 Folsom Boulevard
Status: extant

The "Socal's" neon dates from the early 1970s, although the base of the sign may be that from the Clover Club bar that was here in the 50s and 60s.

20051030 Espanol Italian Restaurant
Espanol Italian Restaurant
5723 Folsom Boulevard
Status: extant

The building of Interstate 5 through Sacramento's historic west end (what remains of it is now Old Sacramento State Historic Park) forced the restaurant to move from the Commercial Hotel to the site of the old Square Deal Restaurant in 1965. The name derives from its origins in a boarding house for Basque sheepherders, but the Luigi Brothers bought the restaurant in 1959 and gradually converted the menu to Italian.

20070424 A&A Appliance
A&A Appliance
6800 Folsom Boulevard
Status: extant

Another shot:
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!

20050722 Petite Beauty Salon
Petite Beauty Salon
5528 H Street
Status: extant

It was recently removed while they redid the roofing, but afterwards it was replaced.

20050722 The Fireside
The Fireside
5539 H Street
Status: kaput

20051104 Club Raven
Club Raven
3246 J Street
Status: replica extant

The old sign was too far gone to be repaired, but Pacific Neon was able to build a replica that could fool anybody. Detail shot:
20071122 Club Raven

20051106 Club 2-me
Club 2-me
4738 J Street
Status: extant

I'm not sure about the sign, but the bar looks old enough. Stop next door for a pasty.

20051106 Bar on J St.
Achilles Heel Tavern
4900 J Street
Status: extant

Now Chargin's Bar & Grill

Shakey's Pizza
Shakey's Pizza
5641 J Street
Status: ???

This is the original Shakey's Pizza location, opened by Shakey Johnson himself in 1954. He sold out to a company from Southern California in the late 1960s. When the restaurant experienced a fire in January of 1996, it was never reopened. When the East End Bar & Grill opened there, the owners wanted to keep the original sign in addition to their own, but apparently there is some sort of ordinance against that. The city asked Capital Neon to store the sign for two months. A year later, they finally moved it to the Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center, where about 30 historic neon signs reside, including one for the Rosemount Grill.

Some of their collection of historic artifacts get shown at the Discovery Museum in Old Sacramento. I'm thinking I need to become a member and go at least once a month just to see what turns up.

20071117 Eppie's
3001 N Street
Status: extant, threatened

The once extensive Eppie's chain is down to one operating restaurant, in West Sacramento. This site looks ready to reopen at a moment's notice, but has been closed since 2004. Somebody still has access to it, though, as there was a banner put up inside recently for this year's Eppie's Great Race.

20070101 Muzio Baking Company
Muzio Baking Company
1708 34th Street
Status: extant

I'm not sure how "vintage" it is. I know they have been there since at least 1988.

South Area


From 15th Street to Stockton Boulevard, Broadway was the old U.S. Route 99. I'm working on more detailed blog entries for that stretch.

20071007 Sim's Diner
Quick Lunch
513 Broadway
Status: extant

Now Sim's Diner. This is a real oldie.

20071007 New American Poultry Co.
New American Poultry Company
519 Broadway
Status: extant

Right next door to Sim's Diner.

20080309 Rukhala Monument Co.
Rukhala Monument Company
1001 Broadway
Status: extant, no neon

It must have been a neon sign at one point, although there are no visible holes for the neon tubes now.

20090607 Joe Marty's El Chico
Joe Marty's El Chico
1500 Broadway
Status: extant

Joe Marty (1913-1984), former Major League Baseball Player and player and manager for the Pacific Coast League's Sacramento Solons, opened a bar on J Street in 1938, and in 1954 moved it into the corner of the Tower Theatre building, naming it Joe Marty's El Chico (before that El Chico Cafe had occupied the space).

I went to eat there and photograph the neon sign at night in July of 2005, only to discover that the venerable establishment had been closed by a small fire at the end of June, 2005. The owner, David Garibaldi, indicated to the Sacramento Bee that he was anxious to reopen as soon as possible, and proclaimed, "There's not a chance that this won't happen. Joe Marty's is coming back." All the historic baseball memorabilia had survived.

In December, the Bee ran a story indicating that despite frustrating delays and complications, the bar and grill would be opening again soon. An article in March, 2006 indicated that it would be reopen by the end of June.

But it never reopened, and there has been a sign outside for more than a year indicating that the space is for lease.

20010828 Original Tower Records sign
Tower Drug Store
1518 Broadway
Status: extant

Where founder of Tower Records, Russ Solomon, got his start selling music. It now houses the Tower Cafe.

20080225 Ready for Blast Off
Tower Theatre
Broadway & Land Park Drive (2508 Land Park Drive)
Status extant

Opening night was 1 November, 1938. Unfortunately, the theater has been divided for multiple screens.

20080103 Pancake Circus
Pancake Circus
2101 Broadway
Status: extant

The building was built around 1963 or 1964 as Al & Myrle's Platter, I believe. It became Pancake Parade around 1969 or 1970, and Pancake Circus in 1970 or 1971.

20080704 Ring Up Rivett
Ring Up Rivett
2300 Broadway
Status: extant

A flooring company recently closed after more than 120 years in business. They moved from downtown to Y Street (now Broadway) around 1925-1926.

20070114 ??? Center
Pet & Pigeon Center
3322 Broadway
Status: extant, but broken

It says "Pet & Puppy Center" on wood on the other side, but before the neon was broken, it said "Pet & Pigeon Center" on this side, according to someone who once lived above it. The long-vanished business went by both of those names, as well as Pet & Poodle Center, over the years.

20080503 Primo's Swiss Club
Swiss Club
3406 Broadway
Satus: extant, no neon, threatened

The elegant building dates from 1910, while the Swiss Club opened here sometime from 1953-1955. Kevin Johnson's company now owns the vacant property, and tried to demolish it, but was blocked by the city. Perhaps he won't have that problem if he wins the race for mayor (as looks likely).

20080113 Stilson Bros Cleaners
Stilson Brothers Cleaners
3519 Broadway
Status: extant

Jasper P. Stilson was working for Spurgeon's Cleaners in 1922, but by 1923 was operating Stilson Brothers cleaners. It's still in business.

20070623 Land Park Drugs
Land Park Pharmacy
4404 Del Rio Road
Status: extant

20071111 The Maine Line
The Circus Tent
8011 Florin Road
Status: extant

Currently the Maine Line.

20060123 Gunther's Ice Cream
Gunther's Ice cream
2801 Franklin Boulevard
Status: extant

An absolute classic--both the neon sign, and the ice cream shop. According to the Sacramento Bee, it opened 2 blocks away in 1940, and moved to its current location in 1949.

20060304 Beauty Bank
Beauty Bank
3639 Franklin Boulevard
Status: extant

I don't know anything about this sign or its age yet.

20071104 Chuck's Liquors
Chuck's Bottle Shop
5620 Franklin Boulevard
Status: extant

The font on the sign was changed when it was repainted and fixed.

20080917 Marie's Do-Nuts
Marie's Do-Nuts
2950 Freeport Boulevard
Status: extant

This sign is circa 1970, although the doughnut shop is older, having previously been Cooper's Donuts.

20080712 Capital Nursery Co.
Capital Nursery
4700 Freeport Boulevard
Status: extant

20071104 Raley's
4850 Freeport Boulevard
Status: extant

Another shot:
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!

20071104 Gem Auto Wash
Gem Auto Wash
5150 Freeport Boulevard

Circa 1956-1958.

20070512 Hollywood Hardware
Hollywood Hardware
5303 Freeport Boulevard
Status: extant

Formerly at 5151. I guess this stretch of Freeport Boulevard used to be Hollywood North, as the old city directories list the following businesses in the area: Hollywood Beauty Shop, Hollywood Jewelers, Hollywood Pastry Shop, Hollywood Bottle Shop, and Hollywood Vogue Women's Apparel.

20080228 idle hour
Idle Hour
6814 Fruitridge Road
Status: extant

Only the cocktail glass is neon, and it's not working, but the rest of the sign is delightfully whimsical.

20070317 Matsuda's
8501 Jackson Road
Status: ??

I've been informed they are no longer Matsuda's. Whatever they become, I imagine they would just repaint the sign, as it no longer has any neon anyhow.

200702115 Old MacDonald's Farm
Old MacDonald's Farm
Jackson Road
Status: extant, neon broken

This is a long ways out of town, but I don't know what other blog entry I would include it in, so I threw it in here.

20070721 Muir Way Market
Muir Way Market
2736 Muir Way
Status: extant, no neon

20080810 Yorozu
The Yorozu
2615 Riverside Boulevard
Status: extant

Moved from the 1300 block of Fourth Street, where it dated back to at least the 1940s.

20071104 Vic's Ice Cream
Vic's Ice Cream
3788 Riverside Boulevard
Status: extant

20080224 Market Club, 1933
Market Club
2630 5th Street
Status: extant

This is a great old diner originally created to serve the workmen of the produce market. You probably can't see the neon up top unless you look at the large version.

20080819 Curtis Park Beauty Salon
Curtis Park Beauty Salon
3440 24th Street
Status: extant

20060304 Seven Stars Baptist Church
Seven Stars Baptist Church
4450 24th Street
Status: extant, no neon

20060304 Repurposed Sign
5531 24th Street
Status: extant, no neon

I haven't gotten around to researching this one yet.

Stockton Boulevard
South from Broadway along Stockton Boulevard (3000 block and higher) was the path of old U.S. Route 99. I'll be writing a more detailed blog entry on this stretch eventually.

20060220 Coca-Cola Bottling Plant
Coca-Cola Bottling
2200 Stockton Boulevard
Status: extant

The building dates from the 1930s.

20080216 Colonial Theatre
Colonial Theatre
3522 Stockton Boulevard
Status: extant

Opened June 7, 1940. Click on the photo to get a full description of the theater published on the day it opened.

20090411 Luigi's Pizza Garden
Luigi's Pizza Garden
3800 Stockton Boulevard
Status: extant

A great neighborhood tradition. Luigi's opened in 1953, and just opened another restaurant in midtown last year.

20060220 Luigi's Pizza Garden


20060527 K-mart
5100 Stockton Boulevard
Status: extant

Circa 1965-1967.

20080228 San Juan Motel
San Juan Motel
5700 Stockton Boulevard
Status: extant

20080228 It Takes a Mobile Village
Holiday Mobile Village
7628 Stockton Boulevard (aka 7800 Whispering Palm Drive)
Status: extant

Another shot:
Mobile Village
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!

20070417 Trails Charcoal Broiler
Trails Restaurant
2530 21st Street
Status: extant

It's a real beauty of a diner, with a great vintage neon sign, wheel wagon chandeliers, and general western theme. America's Mermaid, Esther Williams was once owner or part owner of the restaurant, which opened circa the 1940s.

20051016 Guild Theater
Guild Theatre
2828 35th Street
Status: extant

It used to be the Oak Park Theatre, and may have originally been the Victor, as their website claims, but my research doesn't back that up. In the early 1950s it became the Guild, Sacramento's first art house theater.

North Area

20051210 Geneva's Big Burgers
Ben's Big Burger
863 Arden Way
Status: extant

Now Geneva's Big Burgers, they have a wide menu with a lot of good food. There are some metal pieces on top of the building that I assume are remnants of an old sign.

20060214 Wonder Bread Bakery
Wonder Bread
1324 Arden Way
Status: extant

Auburn Boulevard
Part of old Highway 40 and the Lincoln Highway, and covered more extensively in another blog entry, U.S. Route 40: Sacramento's Auburn Boulevard.

20080217 Swift Dodge Sacramento
Swift Dodge
2301 Arden Way
Status: extant

Their website says they opened in 1966, and the building looks to be of that age, so I assume the signage is too, although it may have been added later.

20080228 A&M Liquor
A&M Bottle Shop
1838 Auburn Boulevard

20060118 Sands Motel
Sands Motel
2160 Auburn Boulevard
Status: extant (neon arrow only)

Pacific Motel
Pacific Motel
2224 Auburn Boulevard
Status: kaput

Ritz Motel
2228 Auburn Boulevard
Status: kaput

Another shot:
Long Gone
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!

Rolling Green Motel
Rolling Green Motel
2230 Auburn Boulevard
Status: kaput

20080303 Tradewinds Motel
Tradewinds Motel
2844 Auburn Boulevard
Status: extant, neon not working

20050810 12 Mile House
12 Mile House
5919 Auburn Boulevard
Status: extant

20080406 Rocky's 7440 Club
Seven Four Forty Club
7440 Auburn Boulevard
Status: extant

20060308 Meissner
Meissner Sewing Machine Company
2417 Cormorant Way
Status: extant

Del Paso Boulevard
The route of old Highway 40, and before that, the Lincoln Highway, from the Sacramento River, to where the highway turned onto El Camino. This is my favorite part of Sacramento, because it was built in the Art Deco age. You can read much more about it in my never-finished blog entry, U.S. Route 40: North Sacramento's Del Paso Boulevard, which has been described by friends at work as both "very detailed" and "really long."

20060203 Bud's Upholstery
Original Auto Wrecking
1301 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant, no neon

20080321 Another Shot of Iceland
1430 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant

By day:
20050804 Iceland

20071013 American Ice Co.
1434 Del Paso Boulevard
American Ice Company
Status: extant

20050719 Arden Motel
Arden Motel
1700 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant, but radically altered

20071214 Lil Joe's
Lil Joe's
1710 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant

20070715 Cardinal Lanes
North Bowl
1721/1725 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant

The lower sign and the letters across the building in this shot are now gone:
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!

2000 B & W Liquor
B&W Liquor
1910 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant, but radically altered

20071013 Nite Hawk Club
Nite Hawk
1822 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant

20090607 Sunland Liquors
Sunland Liquor
2000 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant, no neon

20001103 Jack's Club
Jack's Club
2113 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: kaput

Tony Baloney's Delicatessen
Tony Baloney's
2202 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant, but no neon and radically altered

20050830 Big D's BBQ
Erwin's Frostie
2300 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant

20051105 Cafe Formosa
Cafe Formosa
2424 Del Paso Boulevard
Status: extant

20071013 Allied Trailer Supply
Allied Trailer Supply
1050 El Camino
Status: extant, no neon

Also along the historic Highway 40 route, between Del Paso Boulevard and Auburn Boulevard

20060120 Emigh's Casual Living
Emigh's Casual Living
3535 El Camino
Status: extant

20080222 Stockman
Stockman Club
10219 Fair Oaks Boulevard
Status: extant

20080222 Fair Oaks Deli
Fair Oaks Coffee House & Deli
10223 Fair Oaks Boulevard
Status: extant

20050914 Townhouse
Town House
10236 Fair Oaks Boulevard
Status: extant

20051020 Four Oaks Bottle Shop
Four Oaks Bottle Shop
2142 Grand Avenue
Status: extant

20050808 Sunrise Drive-In
Sunrise Drive-In Theatre
8149 Greenback Lane
Status: kaput

And then there was one. When this drive-in closed in 2004--spurred by health and safety citations, after hanging on for so many years--it left Sacramento 6 as the only drive-in in town. Everything has been demolished for a new housing development. Just what we need--more people living in the suburbs and commuting in SUVs. Another shot:
Sunrise Drive-In Theatre
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!

20051129 Orangevale Liquor
Orangevale Liquors
8940 Greenback Lane
Status: kaput

That's the address it was at when I photographed it, but originally it was across the street. The liquor store has returned to that side of the street in a new building, but the sign is gone.

Western Piano Company
Western Piano Company
2920 Marysville Boulevard
Status: kaput

Another shot:
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!

20051006 Taqueria Zapotlanejo
Eat & Run
3300 Marysville Boulevard
Status: extant, no neon

And later Del's Drive-In, Dena's Diner, Burger Time Drive-In, and Taquería Zapotlanejo. The place has been vacant since at least 2005.

20061011 Crazy Hydraulics
Crazy Hydraulics
3643 Marysville Boulevard
Status: extant, no neon

I'm sure it must have been neon at one point. Interesting shape.

20080107 Faith Tabernacle
Faith Tabernacle Pentecostal
2911 Rio Linda Boulevard
Status: extent

20050828 Flying V Filling Station
Flying V Filling Station
1576 Silica Avenue
Status: ??

No, there was no filling station at this address. This used to be home to Pacific Neon. Now Volvo Rents is there, and the sign is no longer in sight.

20050829 Hagen's Orange Freeze
Hagen's Orange Freeze
2520 Walnut Avenue
Status: extant

20080125 Plaza Hof Brau
Sam's Hof Brau
2500 Watt Avenue
Status: extant

Now Plaza Hof Brau, the "Hof Brau" part of the sign is of 1959 vintage. This is my favorite restaurant--it is a delight inside and out and serves delicious food at low prices. I hope it stays just the same for another 50 years.

20050726 Tower Records
Tower Records
2514 Watt Avenue
Status: extant, but threatened

Russ Solomon started selling records out of his father's drugstore in the corner of the Tower Theatre building, but I believe this is the first Tower Records location, opened circa 1960. The delightful sign on the Tower Theatre is preserved, thanks to the city of Sacramento, but this one is in unincorporated land in Sacramento County, and county officials have not shown any desire to preserve vintage neon.

20050726 Tower Books
Tower Books
2538 Watt Avenue
Status: extant, but covered with a "FOR LEASE" sign

20070520 Country Club Lanes
Country Club Lanes
2600 Watt Avenue
Status: extant

The bowling alley opened in 1959, and the rest of the complex was open by 1960. They've added some neon details to the front that weren't there when I first moved to the area, but the sign with the name is older, although I don't know if it dates back to 1959.

20050810 Saving Center
Saving Center
3438 Watt Ave
Status: extant, no neon

20080622 Levitz Furniture
Levitz Furniture
4741 Watt Avenue
Status: extant, but threatened

The company just went out of business in early 2008, so I presume this sign is not long for this world. For the moment, though, it is fully functional and lighting at night.

20050917 Liquors
North Highlands Bottle Shop
5540 Watt Avenue
Status: extant

West Sacramento

20050829 Whitey's Jolly Kone
Whitey's Jolly Kone
1300 Jefferson Boulevard
Status: extant

Only the arrow is neon, but that's enough for me.

20080309 Sammy's Astro Club
Astro Club
1267 Merkeley Avenue
Status: kaput

From sometime between 1965 and 1973.

Davis Highway
West Capitol, formerly known as the Davis Highway, was the path of old U.S. Route 40, 50, & 99 and the Lincoln Highway. You can read more about this stretch of highway and the businesses along it in my blog entry, U.S. Route 40: West Sacramento's Motel Row. Most of these signs have recently been torn down to comply with a West Sacramento ordinance.

2001 The Experience Lodge
Imperial Lodge (later Experience Motel)
824 West Capitol
Status: kaput

200010 Capitol Bowl
El Rancho Bowl (now Capitol Bowl)
900 West Capitol
Status: kaput

20060129 Casa Mobile
Casa Mobile
1050 West Capitol
Status: extant

20050727 King's
King's Restaurant
1500 West Capitol
Status: kaput

20070926 Dude Motel
Dude Motel
1501 West Capitol
Status: kaput

20061122 Fremont Motel
Fremont Motel
1550 West Capitol
Status: kaput

20080309 Bye-Bye Golden Motel Neon
Golden Motel
1917 West Capitol
Status: in private collection

20050727 El Rancho Mobile Home Park
El Rancho Drive-In Theatre (later Mobile Park)
2000 West Capitol
Status: kaput

200010 Yolo Club
Yolo Club
2216 West Capitol
Status: kaput

20001020 Walnut Trailer Villa
Walnut Trailer Villa
2355 West Capitol
Status: kaput

20050726 Plaza Motel
Plaza Motel
2701 West Capitol
Status: kaput

Another shot of it:
Plaza Motel
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!

20050828 Market
Willie's Market
109 15th Street
Status: kaput

It was probably originally something else, but in the early 1970s it was Willie's Market.

The Ones That Got Away

I've seen many pictures in old newspapers and books of splendid neon signs in Sacramento that disappeared long ago, but there are also some that disappeared recently that I could have and should have gotten photographs of, but I blew the chance. Some, fortunately, were photographed by my Flickr pals illtakeyourphoto! and Dave van Hulsteyn, and a friend at work gave me prints of some old photos he took. Others I have never seen photos of, but would love to. All of these signs would fall into the "kaput" category.

The Hob Nail
Photo by Ken Bennett
The Hob Nail
2708 J Street
Status: kaput

A friend at work gave me a print of this photo he took, and the one below. The nightclub Harlow's now occupies the space that used to be the Hob Nail. The Harlow's sign isn't bad, but it's not even close to being as cool as this one.

Gerlinger Motor Parts
Photo by Ken Bennett
Gerlinger Motor Parts
2020 K Street

This company was in the process of expanding, with a huge new contract based on a railroad merger. They ran into some extra expenses and delays on their new building, and then the merger was nullified by federal authorities, and Sacramento's international railroad company went belly up.

Flamingo Motel
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!
Flamingo Motel
920 West Capitol

I think my first photograph of a Sacramento sign might have been the Brick Shot House just down the road from the Flamingo. It was a boring, plastic sign, but I was amused by the name. Meanwhile, I never got a shot of this one.

Photo by illtakeyourphoto!
Lunar Station
2791 Fruitridge Road

What a beauty, even when obstructed by a pole!

John or Jerry
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!
1844 Auburn Boulevard

Another one, like the Flamingo, on the old Highway 40 route that I have spent so much time researching.

Photo by illtakeyourphoto!
An old TV repair shop
On Franklin Boulevard near 47th

I'll try to research this one soon.

Food City
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!
Food City
4604 Franklin Boulevard

65 Club
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!
Club Sixty-Five
2995 65th Street

This is another one I would have been very excited to see.

Crown Cleaners.
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!
Crown Cleaners
5541 H Street

Electronics Parking
Photo by illtakeyourphoto!
Electronics store
2533 Del Paso Boulevard

It looks like they're converting this store into a church now.

Chop Suey
Scan by illtakeyourphoto!
Sun Sun Cafe
307 J Street

Okay, this is actually a found photo from before I was born, but I really like it so I put it in here.

330 16th Street

I remember seeing this one while shopping nearby at the Salvation Army. Even though the old drive-in was Taquería Jalisco, they kept the sign. I always meant to photograph it, but never did, and then it was gone.

RV lot sign
El Camino east of Del Paso Boulevard

It was ancient and rusting and beautiful.

White rooster sign
Fruitridge Road between Franklin Boulevard and Freeport Boulevard

My memory is pretty fuzzy, but I could have sworn I saw a great sign on an early thrift store run. But even though I looked for in my early days of shooting neon, I never saw it again.

Del Paso Theatre
2120 Del Paso Boulevard

I was out taking photos when I was surprised by the terrazzo sidewalk before a vacant lot. I researched at home and learned of the old Del Paso Theatre, and found out it had still been standing when I moved to the area, but I never saw it.


Travel Scrapbook said...

This is cool. Since when were you collecting these pictures ?

Tom Spaulding said...

July of 2000.

Jeff Vaca said...

Very, very cool post. Even if I do live in Elk Grove.

Anonymous said...

The Al Nielsen tire sign in Midtown, Sacramento originally belonged to my husband's grandfather, Albert Nielsen who owned a tire shop at the current Big O Tire location. More history to share if you are interested.

Thomas Hawk said...

Fantastic resource Tom. Thank you so much for putting this together. Going through this post has me very excited about coming to Sacramento next weekend to shoot neon!

Jeremy Burlingame said...

Very Cool! Thanks!

Gene said...

The sign shown as Crazy Hydraulics
3643 Marysville Boulevard
was originally "Country Maid" drive up dairy and grocery store. There were two of them owned by Arnold Goldberg, the other was near the old state fair grounds.He had the first "Icee" machines in sacramento and hired me to help out with the expected increase in business in 1967. Too bad there isn't a picture of that sign it was a great sign.

Jim said...

Great photos! I have lived in Sacramento for almost 70 years so this is a real trip down memory lane. I have a question regarding you photo of Joe Marty's bar. You mentioned he open a bar on J St in 1938. Do you know where on J St and what did he call it.

Anonymous said...

I had been thinking it would be fun to photograph Sacramento's neon as a summertime project, but I am thrilled to find out you've already done it! Now I can just sit back and enjoy your photos. Really cool. Thank you!

jaxcell said...

Anyone remember or have a photo of the welcome to Rosemont rockinghorse? I remember that being the coolest thing ever.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember where the old 40 GRAND CLUB on Del Paso Blvd use to be? It was owned by a guy named Lloyd Hickey and he also owned the El Rancho Hotel in West Sacramento. They played mostly Western Swing music -bands like: Willie Nelson, Waylon, Jerry Lee Lewis, Donna Fargo and Tex Ritter and many more performed there in the 1950-1960's??

janeen said...

I have a vintage neon Budweiser Bowtie sign that I am looking to sell. It is from the l970's, an old bar on Folsom Blvd., in east Sacramento. We are relocating and do not want it damaged during the move. I have had this sign for 26 years.


Steve said...

Thanks alot. I really enjoyed the pictures. There are a few that are a bit newer than you think. I've lived here all my life and have always admired the neon, so I've kind of kept track. Mostly though, you've done some great research and created a great collection!

Daddy O's Logos said...

My name is Ken From Daddy O's Logos 1924 16th Street Sacramento I have a Pic of the sign on our building which says "YOUR CLEANER" Not Sure of the year but will go great on the blog. It's a old Neon. . I'll forward it if your interested.

Neon And More said...

Thanks for shar­ing this best Custom neon Signs post ever

malar said...

HaHa...I'll try to do some sketch when i got the time...

Sacramento Web Design

Anonymous said...

There was a Roma Bakery at 4th and P Streets, 1529(?) 4th St. It relocated to 6th Street, between S and T streets, 1913(?) 6th St. with the name New Roma Bakery. Looks like the sign (and bakery?) relocated to E Street.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a picture of the old Orangevale Liquor store on Greenback lane
in it's original spot next to Shakey's Pizza?