Americana Along Beach Boulevard

Photographing old signs has long been one of my favorite passions. And California has a plethora of them. Just the other day I decided to drive down Beach Boulevard (also known as California Route 39) through Buena Park, Anaheim, Stanton, Westminster, and Huntington Beach to take pictures of the fair amount of signs this short stretch has to offer.

Some of these locations offer some unique history, so you’ll spy some text accompanying some of the photos.

The Movieland Wax Museum opened in 1962, and reportedly had over one million visitors a year during its peak. It closed in 2005, and in 2007 the city of Buena Park purchased the property. Shortly after we moved to California the building became home to two temporary exhibits, one about the Titanic, and the other Bodies: The Exhibition (you know, the kind with the real human bodies with the peeled away). I had honestly planned to go to the Titanic exhibit, but other things attracted my attention, and I have been lucky enough to see two other Titanic exhibits in the past. In summer of last year Buena Park city officials approved the removal of the iconic sign, and for the property to become the new home of a butterfly pavilion. But today, as construction on the butterfly pavilion begins, the sign still looms large.

Sadly the above sign used to be way cooler! And I am simply heartbroken that I never photographed it before they changed it to the relatively tacky incarnation it is now. But its shape is so unique I still wanted to share it.

The Sea Breeze Pet Cemetery ended up being a really unique place. I did some research on it, and it is totally worth its own blog post! So look for that sometime soon!

My original plan for my day was to start in Buena Park, drive south, photographing the right side of the street, until I reached the end of the road, where Beach Blvd. meets with Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, then turn around and do the same thing going north, to avoid criss-crossing the street. But I didn’t see this Arby’s until I was already going back north, and it was on the opposite side of the street! But I knew it was a real treat, and I made a quick U-turn, and I am overjoyed that I did! Because not only was this an Arby’s that still had its original sign, it still had its original covered wagon inspired building, which inside featured its original steer head mosaic! I almost passed out!

Also, I seriously want this in my house. I mean, it’s a work of art. The second I stepped inside, I stopped dead in my tracks and immediately took a picture. I think the employees thought I was crazy. I ordered a soda as to not be entirely took weird!

For other sign geeks out there on the hunt! My little tour was simple, and took about four hours, including driving, stopping for photographs, and even spending some time at the cemetery. I started where the 91 meets Beach Blvd. in Buena Park and drove until Beach met with, well, the beach, at PCH, and then turned around and drove back!

With the exception of the the Movieland Wax Museum and “Fabulous Market” each of these places are still in business. Photographing these properties in no way mean that I support or endorse these businesses. I only wanted to highlight the glory that is mid-century signage.

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