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Neon Signs Bring New Light to East Vancouver

Saveonmeats BabysinblackIn 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.

As part of the City of Vancouver’s plan to refurbish original neon signs, the historic Pennsylvania Hotel (412 Carrall Street) had its sign updated in early 2009 and a new sign at the Rainier Hotel (309 Carrall Street), is currently under construction. Among the original heritage signs still visible on Vancouver streets are the Ovaltine Cafe (251 East Hastings Street), Save On Meats (43 West Hastings Street), Only Seafood Restaurant (20 East Hastings Street), and the 2400 Court Motel (2400 Kingsway, Burnaby).
 
Courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

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