Neon Signs Bring New Light to East Vancouver
In the 1950s, Vancouver was home to the largest neon company in the world and had 18,000 neon signs, equalling one for every 19 residents. Vancouver was second only to Shanghai in neon per capita and, at that time, Vancouver was considered by airline pilots to be the brightest city in North America.
Today, neon is making a comeback. A new 45-foot neon "Chinatown" sign, commissioned by the City of Vancouver, stands at the corner of Keefer and Quebec streets and is poised to become a new landmark for Vancouver’s historic Chinese quarter.
The "East Van" cross, installed in January at East Sixth Avenue and Clark Drive in East Vancouver, is a 55-foot tall steel and aluminum cross lit by LED lights with "East" running vertical and "Van" running horizontal. Created by Vancouver artist Ken Lum, it is a reference to the iconic East Vancouver insignia that has been used to define the neighbourhood for decades.
Those driving over the Georgia viaduct now see the phrase "EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT" emblazed in neon on a Chinatown rooftop. This piece, by British artist Martin Creed, was installed in August 2009 by a local developer and art collector and has elicited confusion, speculation and commentary among Vancouverites ever since.