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Classic L.A. to Z: N is for NEON

Photograph courtesy of flickr/josuab

Neon is the melding of art and science: a noble gas trapped in a tube that’s been electrified and molded into fanciful shapes—even a Felix the Cat who wants tosell you a Chevy. It was a Packard dealership, at Olympic and Hope, that in 1923 imported the first glowing red logo from Claude Neon, the French company that invented the process. Stellar examples of the art—when the glass was handblown and LEDs didn’t exist—continue to light up the night (“Meet me under the Santa Monica Pier sign”) and define neighborhoods (“It’s three blocks from Circus Liquor”). This summer the Museum of Neon Art will lead bus tours of the most beloved signs in the city.

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town