Signs, like buildings, get our attention. And over time they become landmarks, fixed in our minds and memories, helping us navigate an ever-changing world with some thread of familiarity and link to our past. I remember at two or three years of age, laying in the "back-back" of the family station wagon playing with my red Etch-A-Sketch. I recall looking out and seeing an enormous globe of the world atop a building, and knowing right where we were (in front of the Heald Business College on Santa Clara Street). There were many such signs that I'm sure many "old-timers" will readily recall: the San Jose Steel Sign off Highway 101 (read "NOEL" at Christmas), the Coppertone sunscreen billboard, the huge Chevrolet sign on Steven's Creek Boulevard near Town and Country Village (now Santana Row), just to name a few. The importance of these old landmarks have been recognized by others, such as the San Jose Signs Project, a campaign funded by the Preservation Action Council of San Jose. Inspired by their documentation of signs, I set about photographing a few myself. One thing I realized during this endeavor, is how many really great old signs we still have.
Further Reading from the California Room:
- The San Jose Signs Project by the Preservation Action Council of San Jose
- Clipping File: Signs