Blight without light: Neon signs gone dark

Oct 11, 2010 at 5:01 pm
Photographer-sociologist-documentarian Camilo José Vergara has been no stranger to Detroit in his past surveys of the urban landscape. In photo essays at Slate, where he regularly appears, he’s made Detroit part of his multi-city studies of GM cars (“alive, dead and reborn”), church signs, repurposed banks (now porn emporiums, for instance), day-care centers, and power wheel-chair users, to name a few subjects.

Which brings us to his latest installment, “You’ve lost the glow: Photos of broken neon signs,

“You've lost that glow” includes a no-longer-illuminated palm tree on E. McNichols Road at Riopelle, along with signage for the Cas Bar on Michigan Avenue, the Spot-Light Market on  Hazlet at Tireman, and other sites. Writes Vergara:

Once upon a time, signs like these told us where we were, gave a sense of place to commercial streets. Today, they function as historical markers, nostalgic reminders of the businesses that once lined the streets.