Unless you’re super new to the blog, then you know I adore neon. There is something about the almost alchemy like art that is neon, and I love seeing it. One of the best ways to see the neon of Los Angeles in the wild is by taking the Neon Cruise, offered by the Museum of Neon Art. While I took this tour back in 2019, I wanted to share it with a friend, and things can change fast in LA, so it’s always worth taking again.
As the sun set we climbed atop a double decker bus to get a wonderful view of Los Angeles’ neon, some new, some old, some that works, and some that does not, but we love it all. Our tour was hosted by one of my favorite persons, Eric Lynxwiler. I love hearing him talk about this city, because it makes me fall even more in love with LA. Eric is a wealth of information, sharing the history of the area, buildings, and even giving recommendations on restaurants and places to visit. Our tour also consisted of two stops, one at Grand Central Market (you can see more of it on the blog here) and Canters (you can see and read more about here) offering the perfect opportunity for a snack or refreshment!
Much of Los Angeles’ old downtown theatre district has transformed into the jewelry district, with many theaters repurposed as retail space. The Downtown Jewelry Exchange/Jewelry Theatre Building LLC is an interesting example as not only does the neon and marquee remain, a key remnant of the studio owned theatre era still remains. Prior to 1948 studios owned the majority of cinemas, that is until the Supreme Court case of United States v. Paramount Pictures Inc., which said that the ownership violated antitrust laws. While this old theatre, designed by B. Marcus Priteca, opened in 1920 as the Pantages, a vaudeville venue, it became a Warner Bros. theatre in 1929, and the studio put its iconic shield logo at the top center of the marquee. Beginning in the 1940s it had a series of different owners and names, even became a church for awhile, before becoming the jewelry center it is today. Apparently it even had a Burger King added to its basement! While a movie hasn’t flickered here in some time, the neon “WB” shield outline remains, just now with a diamond inside. Various internet sources say there are other remnants inside, but I have yet to step inside, perhaps one day.
The Neon Cruise is one of several unique offerings from the Museum of Neon Art, one of my favorite museums in the greater Los Angeles area. The museum saves and houses various neon signs, in addition to displaying contemporary works of neon art. There are even classes to take! Which I have wanted to do for some time. I first visited back in 2017 (read about it here) and have returned a handful of times since as they are always rotating the items on display. The museum is a must if you’re like me and into neon.
Bask in the glow of neon the Museum of Neon Art at 216 S. Brand Boulevard in Glendale, and visit their website for upcoming Neon Cruise dates. And if you love neon, you can also follow Eric on Instagram, as he is always posting pictures of signs he finds!