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A graphic with a multitude of illuminating neon lights advertising taverns and liquor stores.

Walking Tour of West Village Neon

October 20, 2020

Due to the success of our Walking Tour of Historic Chinatown Signage, Poster House is partnering again with design historian Thomas Rinaldi as he guides you on this 90-minute walking tour of the West Village.

Greenwich Village is blessed with an especially dense concentration of vintage neon signs. Signs like these advertised businesses large and small throughout the city beginning in the 1920s and 1930s. They fell out of favor in the 1960s due to rising costs, restrictive zoning ordinances, and the appearance of less costly forms of outdoor advertising. In recent years, they have all but disappeared as old, independent businesses across the city have succumbed to rent hikes and old age. This tour will take us past about a dozen signs dating to the 1930s, 40s and 50s, marking the locations of some of the neighborhood’s most stalwart restaurants, bars, and small businesses. We will see them at dusk, as they start to come to light and when they look their best.  Some have been beautifully restored; all are in perpetual danger of disappearing.  We will discuss their materials, design, origins and future.

Thomas Rinaldi is the co-author of the book Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape, published by the University Press of New England in 2006, and the author of New York Neon, published by W.W. Norton in 2012. His photographs have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, The New York Observer, Westchester Magazine, CNN Online, and elsewhere, and have been exhibited at the Municipal Art Society of New York and at the New York State Museum in Albany.

NOTE: This tour does NOT begin at Poster House. You will be emailed the starting location one week before the event. Guests should be prepared to walk on uneven, crowded streets for 90 minutes without seating.

In the event of rain, the walking tour will take place on November 17.