Dre\’s Ramblings

Neon in B’ham: A sign’s possible last days?


This sign is located on Second Avenue across from Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs. We’ll eventually put up an image of that icon, but first things first; the block has seen it become quieter thanks to the spring closing of the area Wachovia branch. The property owner, George Ladd, has announced plans to spend $2.5 million to repair buildings located at 1910 and 1912 2nd Avenue, North. The link to the article from Sunday’s Birmingham News follows:

(Dull downtown sites to shine, The Birmingham News, 7.23.2006)

This project can only add to the potential of activities in the surrounding area, including events at the McWane Center. The critical mass that many have been waiting for in terms of development is close at hand. There will be many people enjoying conducting the dumpster test soon around here. One of my former bosses introduced me to it (the one I talk about in this post). As more dumpsters and construction workers appear in areas, it provides one of the best signals of a strong economic heartbeat. Sounds good to me. We may lose the sign in the process, but the activity and pride that may stem from it will be worth it. It has sat dark for several years and the commercial space has been vacant recently. It can only bring good things to the area now.

Click here to view the series page, here to view the photo gallery and here to send in any ideas for other signs you may know of.



3 Comments so far
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I’m fond of that Diana sign and the architecture of the building behind it, but I’d love to know what used to be there–a clothing store, a theater, what?

Comment by cbuchanan

I love your neon in Birmingham series.

There is always a conflict between history and progress. We find it hard to let go of our past (those neon signs), but to move forward we have replace the old with the new. Part of what holds us back is our attachment to history. Things have meaning. Buildings are the physical embodiment of memories and sometimes we feel that if we tear those structures down that we loose a part of ourselves. It’s an irrational fear, but ever present. When you get right down to it, however, things, building, signs, etc., are just collections of brick, wood, and glass. The history lies OUTSIDE of the physical objects associated with the memory. By documenting history, through photos, video, writing, we can preserve the memories while not hindering our progress.

In short, I hope you continue documenting the history of neon in the city. By doing so it makes it easier to move on into the future.

Comment by Shadowhelm

Thanks for the comment Shadowhelm. I do agree with you to a point. Something that makes our cities unique is the architecture. Buildings are bricks and stone. The building does come alive with people. It is more of a question of how do you take care of history and how is it used. If we continue to view it as the reason that we’re being held back, then it is not being used properly. Using history as a tool for progress, by understanding what has happened and how it has helped shape us is a better use of history for our future. It’s the character that makes a city. You do lose a part of the city when you lose an important building. What we need to be sure that we save those that are relevant to the history of the city when we can. There may be some debate as to which buildings they are, and what may be important to one may not necessarily be important to another.
I’ve got no plans to stop recording history. It’s the best way to make sure that we can move on when we need to.
Thanks again for the comment and for reading.

Comment by dresramblings

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