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American Signs: Form and Meaning on Rte. 66

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The roadside sign has become an American icon: a glowing neon symbol of the golden age of the open road. Yet signs are complex pieces of design, serving not only as physical markers but also as cultural, political, and economic ones. In American Signs, Lisa Mahar traces the evolution of motel signs on Route 66 in a distinctive visual approach that combines text, images, an The roadside sign has become an American icon: a glowing neon symbol of the golden age of the open road. Yet signs are complex pieces of design, serving not only as physical markers but also as cultural, political, and economic ones. In American Signs, Lisa Mahar traces the evolution of motel signs on Route 66 in a distinctive visual approach that combines text, images, and graphics. American Signs reveals the rich vernacular traditions of motel sign-making in five eras, spanning from the late 1930s through the 1970s. The motel signs of the early 1940s, for instance, reflect vernacular traditions dating back at least a century, while examples from the later years of the decade reveal a culture newly obsessed with themes. America's fascination with newness and technological progress is manifested in 1950s motel signs. Finally, in the 1960s, a turn toward simplicity and the use of new, modular technologies allowed motel signs to address the needs of a mass society and the beginnings of a national, rather than regional, aesthetic for motel signs.


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The roadside sign has become an American icon: a glowing neon symbol of the golden age of the open road. Yet signs are complex pieces of design, serving not only as physical markers but also as cultural, political, and economic ones. In American Signs, Lisa Mahar traces the evolution of motel signs on Route 66 in a distinctive visual approach that combines text, images, an The roadside sign has become an American icon: a glowing neon symbol of the golden age of the open road. Yet signs are complex pieces of design, serving not only as physical markers but also as cultural, political, and economic ones. In American Signs, Lisa Mahar traces the evolution of motel signs on Route 66 in a distinctive visual approach that combines text, images, and graphics. American Signs reveals the rich vernacular traditions of motel sign-making in five eras, spanning from the late 1930s through the 1970s. The motel signs of the early 1940s, for instance, reflect vernacular traditions dating back at least a century, while examples from the later years of the decade reveal a culture newly obsessed with themes. America's fascination with newness and technological progress is manifested in 1950s motel signs. Finally, in the 1960s, a turn toward simplicity and the use of new, modular technologies allowed motel signs to address the needs of a mass society and the beginnings of a national, rather than regional, aesthetic for motel signs.

38 review for American Signs: Form and Meaning on Rte. 66

  1. 5 out of 5

    DavidB

    Lisa Mahar has accomplished something wonderful in her study of the evolution of motel signs along old US Route 66. The text explores aspects of the guild of industrial signmakers as well as sociocultural reasons signs took the forms they did and is accompanied by the best visual index and cross reference of the myriad lettering styles, symbols and general organization of the signs you could hope to find. The study is interesting and the graphic nature of the book fascinating. More on the book in Lisa Mahar has accomplished something wonderful in her study of the evolution of motel signs along old US Route 66. The text explores aspects of the guild of industrial signmakers as well as sociocultural reasons signs took the forms they did and is accompanied by the best visual index and cross reference of the myriad lettering styles, symbols and general organization of the signs you could hope to find. The study is interesting and the graphic nature of the book fascinating. More on the book including an NPR interview with the author can be found at www.davidbogosian.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    A scholarly and detailed discussion about the development of American signs, especially on Route 66. The symmetrical, geometric shapes of the '40s gave way to the wildly stylized, unique, and abstract forms of the '50s. (What I would consider the golden age of signage.) The '60s saw a return to the geometric shapes of the '40s, in which function was more important to demonstrate than personalization. An excellent read for anyone interested in the signs of yesteryear. A scholarly and detailed discussion about the development of American signs, especially on Route 66. The symmetrical, geometric shapes of the '40s gave way to the wildly stylized, unique, and abstract forms of the '50s. (What I would consider the golden age of signage.) The '60s saw a return to the geometric shapes of the '40s, in which function was more important to demonstrate than personalization. An excellent read for anyone interested in the signs of yesteryear.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary-Frances

    interesting read for googie lovers!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

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    Alan

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  37. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  38. 5 out of 5

    Huybrechts Jozef

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