The Neon Gods We Made – Revisiting the Los Angeles Neon Cruise

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!

A three sided neon sign juts out above a doorway, and reads "Hotel Bristol" on each side. A red arrow, edged in neon reads "Burgers" beyond it.

A massively long blade style neon sign hangs on the corner of a building reads "Commercial Exchange Bldg." in blue neon.

A red, white and blue neon sign reads "Coles Originators French Dipped Sandwiches Since 1908 Cocktails"

A long red blade style sign hangs off the corner of a brick building reading "Hotel Hayward"

A large heart shaped sign sits atop a roof, reading "Rosslyn Hotel"

A massive sign sits atop a brick building and reads "Rosslyn Hotel 1100 New Million Dollar Fire Proof Rooms Popular Prices"

A red blade style neon sign hangs from a building reading "Far East Chop Suey" in partially lit neon script.

An unlit neon sign marquee of what was once a Warner Bro. theater turned diamond store, features a diamond inside the wold WB logo, and "Gold Diamond Wholesale Retail" in green letters on the marquee.

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.

A blue blade style neon sign is edged in golden yellow neon and reads "Palace" in blue neon.

Our tour guide, Eric, wearing a shirt featuring neon signs, holds a mega phone as we pass by the Spanish Revival icon that is Union Station.

A red, white and blue neon sign reads "Philippe" in red neon script and "French Dipped Sandwiches" below.

Two gold Chinese dragons fight over a pearl in the archway over Chinatown.

A sign sits atop a brick building reading "Broadway Palace Apartments" in red and white neon.

Large red neon letters read "Jesus Saves"

A blue painted sign features unlit neon letters reading "China Cafe Chop Suey Chow Mein"

A portion of the massive neon mural at Grand Central Market which features a man in a suit, top hat, and glasses, a pair of legs in water, a pickle with a face that reads "Watch Your Pickle Back" next to it, and a cowboy.

Sign for Olio pizza, which reads "Olio" in yellow neon scrip" neon flames, and "Pizza" in red letters.

Pink neon reads "Superet Light" above a statue of Jesus.

A combination bulb, neon, and backlist plastic sign for the Hollywood Downtowner Motel. "Hollywood Downtowner" is in backlit plastic, with "Motel" being edged in blue neon and the inside bulbs.

The blue neon sign for the Pantages.

The gleeful Frolic Room neon sign which reads "Frolic Room" in yellow neon.

The bulb and neon blade and marquee sign for the El Capitan Theatre.

The large rooftop neon sign for the "Roosevelt Hotel" which spells out its name in red neon letters.

The marquee sign for Cinegrill in red neon, and blue neon stars along the side.

A newer McDonald's features a neon arches logo and "Speedee"

The yellow and green neon sign for Canters, which reads "Canters" in yellow and "Restaurant Bakery Delicatessen" in green.

Another neon sign for Canters features a neon chef carrying a loaf of bread and "Bakery" in green neon.

Unlit neon reading "Coffee Shop Restaurant" along the angled roofline of the former Bernie for President HQ.

Sign and marquee for the El Rey which is various colors of neon and features artistic elements of art deco.

View down Broadway, with a variety of blade style neon signs for both active and defunct theaters. One reads "Los Angeles" in yellow neon, another reads "Palace" in blue. Further down a sign for a Ross Dress for Less is done in the same style to fit in.

The Palace marquee, which reads "Palace" on three sides with some letters lit.

Marquee for the Globe, which reads "Globe" in red neon leters.

Red neon spells out "Golden Gopher" above the doorway.

Top of the Art Deco Eastern building which reads "Eastern" in neon, and a neon clock below, the half moon sits above in the sky.

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!

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