Photo: Robert Whitehead
“Building signs have grown into a $37.5 billion industry. Some have become so iconic they are peranent parts of the landscape, often standing in for their hometown.

Some signs have become so iconic, they are permanent parts of the landscape — and sometimes stand in for the cities in which they are found…

The boldness of Miami

Nothing captures the vibe of this Florida city like the pastel-colored Art Deco hotels and glowing neon signs along Ocean Drive on Miami Beach — all part of a historic district. Erected in 1935, the three-story Colony Hotel was one of the first of the properties to make its mark. Henry Hohauser designed the structure, in the streamlined style of the day, as well as its inverted-T sign. His boxy marquee allowed the name to be seen from both sides and the beach… Materials used in construction during the Depression weren’t of the highest quality, however, and by 1989 the marquee had to be rebuilt. Recently, the neon letters were painstakingly removed again before a new marquee made of galvanized steel was installed and the letters put back on.

The quirkiness of Los Angeles

The sign above Randy’s Donuts in Los Angeles can be seen by those flying in and out of Los Angeles International Airport.

The sprawling Southern California city is home to a number of “programmatic” signs — ones shaped like the products their businesses sell, designed to flag down passing motorists. The dimpled pastry atop Randy’s Donuts in the Inglewood neighborhood is by far the best known of the bunch.

Thirty-two feet in diameter, the doughnut can be spotted from the air by those flying in and out of Los Angeles International Airport. And if people haven’t laid eyes on it in person, they have likely seen it in movies, music videos and promotions.

The sophistication of Chicago

The Gothic-style letters of the Drake Hotel’s famous sign stand nearly 12 feet tall and have been perched on the roof of the landmark building in downtown Chicago since 1940.”

— Jane Margolies, New York Times
Great photos and more about additional cities and their iconic signs

Citizens for a Scenic Florida