Los Angeles may not be the official birthplace of neon signage, but it might be the city most closely associated with the colorful glass tubes of light. From flickering lights in the windows of San Gabriel Valley hotel rooms to the glorious rooftop signs above the historic hotels and apartments of Hollywood and Koreatown, neon is everywhere in LA. Or, at least, it used to be. Back in the 90s, neon lights started going out of style nationwide--replaced in many cases by cheaper LED lighting. Fortunately, as LA Weekly reports, the long decline of neon has recently begun to reverse course.
One reason for this change is probably nostalgia. Where neon lighting might once have seemed tacky and ostentatious, today it can appear charming and timeless. There's a romantic warmth to it that is not possible to convincingly replicate with LED fixtures. Another reason is craftsmanship. LA Weekly profiles Lisa Schulte, who has been crafting neon lights for many years, and saw her business drop off significantly after the advent of LED technology. Now, she's doing well enough that finding enough glass to meet the demand of her customers can be a challenge. Schulte and the team of artisans that work with her at her workshop Nights of Neon create intricately designed signs and lettering that show tremendous creativity and a keen attention to detail.
Recently, the Museum of Neon Art reopened in Glendale, helping to foster appreciation for the creativity and workmanship that goes into classic neon signage. "It's truly a talent," MONA spokesman Eric Lynxwiler, tells LA Weekly. "It takes years and years of practice, so every time we lose one of these old fellows, another piece of neon history is lost."