Immerse yourself in the fantastical colors, spectrum of designs, and vibrant history of Seattle’s rich neon heritage
Enjoy page after page of the Emerald City’s extensive neon history with this full-color collection of over 425 brilliant, whimsical, outlandish, and downright spectacular signs by Seattle photographer and local history enthusiast Matt Hucke. From Aurora Avenue to White Center to Rainier Valley, Seattle Neon documents the familiar and the obscure, the historic and the new, with gorgeous photos from every neighborhood. Location information is provided for all signs, making this book the perfect resource for self-guided walking tours.
From the Introduction:
Seattle is losing its character. Decades-old businesses are being driven out of the city by rent increases, by skyrocketing land value, by petty crime, by the pandemic, or by the twenty-first century rendering old business models obsolete. Beloved neighborhood institutions are disappearing at a furious pace. Everywhere you look, unique buildings and businesses have vanished, to be replaced with generic and interchangeable mid-rise apartment buildings, or glass skyscrapers that look no different from those in every other major city in the world.
Our neon heritage, too, is disappearing. Some of the best and most historic pieces—the Rainier Brewery “R,” the pink elephants of Elephant Car Wash, the Buckaroo Tavern’s cowboy—have been taken from their original locations, but can still be found on display in museums or in buildings owned by neon enthusiasts. Others have gone dark or vanished, including several that I photographed in the early stages of this project—Key Arena, Ballard Automotive Repair, Bick’s Broadview Grill, The Bit Saloon, Hau Hau Market—and some that I never got a chance to see in action, such as Seal’s Motel, Ramona Cleaners, Icon Grill, Buca di Beppo’s Chianti bottle, and the Guild 45th Theatre. I expect there will be other heartbreaking losses…
For three years, I’ve walked the major streets of every neighborhood in Seattle, by day and by night, seeking the best neon art—commercial art, some might sneer, but art nonetheless. Neon is uniquely handcrafted. Every piece of glass has been bent by a skilled artisan to precisely the shape and length required. When all or part of a sign inevitably stops working, usually after decades of exposure to the elements, replacement tubes are fashioned using the same difficult and labor-intensive techniques as used to craft the original. Neon is not cheap, or disposable, or forgettable—neon is an investment. Neon is a statement that a business expects to survive long enough to be worth the effort.
Release Date: November 3, 2022
Author/Photographer: Matt Hucke
Publisher: Everything Goes Media
Format: Full-color, trade paperback
Size: 8.5" x 11"