Signs of the times

Sign - South End Tavern.JPG

The South End Tavern in Troy

By Jessica Pasko

Ever notice how many cool old retro signs are hanging around the Capital Region?

I can't help it -- I find something about about all that kitsch rather charming. The other day I got thinking about some of my favorites and made a list.

Some of my favorites (with pictures of course) can be found after the jump.

What did I miss?

Supersonic Car Wash, 1025 Central Ave., #1, Albany.

Sign - carwash.jpg

This car wash sign is so garish and cool that it makes me want to get my car washed here. It looks much more exciting than Hoffman's. Anybody tried the place? The sign definitely makes me curious.

Bob and Ron's Fish Fry, 1007 Central Ave., Albany.

Sign - Bob and Rons.jpg

The Bob and Ron's sign is pretty much an area icon at this point. The beauty of this place is that the interior also looks like it hasn't been changed in at least a couple of decades. That's definitely the charm of this age-old vendor of Capital Region specialty, the fish fry on a hot dog bun.

Playdium Bowling 363 Ontario St., Albany.

Sign - playdium.jpg

Many things about the Playdium scream "classic," but the marquee sign is definitely one of my favorite aspects. I can't help but want to go in, play a few games, and sip a few White Russians every time I drive past.

Morette's King Steak House 1126 Erie Blvd, Schenectady.

Sign-Morette's .jpg

This photo is courtesy of Albany photographer Crystal Powell. Celina wasn't a huge fan of Morettes overall, but she vouches for the steak sandwiches. Personally, I'm just all about this great sign.

Wheeler's Liquor Store, 1145 Central Ave., Albany, N.Y. 12205


Confession: I have never actually ventured into Wheeler's for booze, because I'm a bit of a loyalist when it comes to where I buy my spirits. But this signage really has me intrigued. One of these days, I'm going to head in.

South End Tavern, 757 Burden Ave., Troy.
Sign - South End Tavern.JPG

The South End Tavern, established in 1934, is well-known for its long-standing "Ladies' Only Entrance." The sign was originally intended to separate the bar section from the restaurant. Were I a drunken college student, this is the kind of sign I'd want to risk getting arrested for stealing. But please don't really do that -- the trip through South Troy would be a much sadder one were it not for the smile-inducing sign.

L-Ken's, 1565 Central Ave., Colonie.


Okay, sure, L-Ken's roadside stand closed in 2008. Still, the building and it's sign with the cute little caricature remain, sadly decaying before our eyes. I can't recall ever actually eating here, but if it were still open now, I think I'd try to stop for fish fry and ice cream. But seriously, how great is this sign?

Mike's First Prize Diner

Signs-Mikes First Prize.JPG

Famous for its hot dogs, Mike's First Prize has made a number of "diners of the world" collections . Oh, and it makes an appearance in the film "Winter of Frozen Dreams."

The Westgate entrance sign


The Westgate shopping center, which opened in 1957, was apparently considered to be Albany's first mall. In its early years, it even boasted a JC Penney department store and a Woolworth's. Unfortunately for good ol' Westgate, it couldn't compete with the behemoth that is Crossgates and has seen several decades of decay along with some revitalization. Still, the Price Chopper here does boast the Epcot Center of supermarket aisles , so at least there's that. The historic sign has been an issue of great debate, with some developers arguing that it gives the plaza too dated of a look. Personally, I've always loved this sign and the way it stands brightly above Central Avenue, straddling the upper and lower parts of the road like a florescent beacon of commercialism.


Jericho Drive-In marquee:

Meginniss Electrical sign:

The Olympic Bar and Restaurant, on South Pearl:

Morette's & Mike's are that much cooler because they're within view of each other.

The Orchard Tavern sign:

(photo I found on the internet)

Lark Tavern?
The Starlite Theater?

Westgate Price Chopper is my favorite in the area. Westgate Pizza's not so bad, either. I'm all for the sign with a new light bulb or two.

Whee, this is fun!

Hoffman's playland!

And how can we forget the bung factory? ;)

The Miss Albany Diner:

The Palace Marquee (does that count?):

There's so many!

(all pictures ripped off the internet via google, except the bung factory article, of course.)

For some reason, I have a predilection for the ones with the giant, swooping, light-up arrow. The Hoffman's one totally fits with that too!

The Daily Grind on Lark:

Ladies Entrance...reminds me of old joke:

Liquor in the front, Poker in the rear!

thats all - thank you

I always liked the sign (and the whole building) for the now-defunct Simon's liquor store:

The American Auto Glass near Jack's Diner has a cool old sign. What about Lombardo's in Albany. Nipper the Dog is a sign for RCA. Thanks to whomever remembered Meginniss. Some old fallout shelter signs should be remembered. Jack's Oyster House has one, I think. Some years ago, not so many, there was an old bar on Western ave near downtown that had a great old sign with the name of the house pianist on it. It was electric, but is sadly gone now.

Ladies entrance is the best one I think in terms of recalling the past

By far the best local Retro Sign is Snowman's (ice cream)
531 5th Ave, Troy

Boulevard Rug, 232 Fuller St, Schenectady

Great article...I love all these old signs. Especially the ones along Central including the car wash and Westgate...I grew up seeing those from the comfy black vinyl seats of my aunt's 66 Caprice.

Here's one just off State Street in downtown Albany that I blogged about recently:

The GE logo! Off of 890 in Schenectady, it has seasonal colors!

Love this post, old signs are my favorite. I like all kinds, especially the old painted ads on the sides of brick buildings. Ogden, Utah is full of fanstastic old neons.

Apparently, I read the signs out loud, which I never realized until a West Coast roadtrip with my bf in summer '08. He pointed it out to me.

For my bday this year my brother sent me the book "Storefront: The disappearing signs of New York" which is great! Worth a look if this is your thing.

Found another one in my files...the tiny lunch counter on Lark Street has an older sign.

sometimes, when I'm driving down Central Ave. from Colonie headed towards Albany, I get a gander at the view in front of me and think, why in the crapville am I living here? I'm not even *from* here. How did I end up staying here?

Then I see a nice little article like this and think, o albany, you had me at retro signs.

I don't have pictures, but the sign at the Malta Drive In is fun too!

I have been meaning to get out and take photos of Central Ave at night. With all those blinking, lit up signs and arrows... it's like our own little 'Strip' (Las Vegas Blvd).

Also, I don't know how in the world you captured a photo of Westgate (Westqate?) with all the neon sections illuminated. I don't think I've ever seen it that way. I call Photoshop! ;)

The Proctor's sign in Troy is a good on. There are other classic signs from the area also on my Flickr page.

Two more...Lake Electronics and Kurver Kreme, both on Central.

The Metro 20 Diner on Western in Guilderland (

The Spectrum Theater ( & Sheila's Wine & Liquor on Delaware (image not available, sorry!)

I love them all, good ol'days, one I wish i could get would be the huge general electric sign with christmas colors at night. That is something i keep saying im going to do everytime i pass it. Maybe soon.

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