West Hollywood Unveils Neon Signage in Honor of Route 66

Santa Monica Boulevard may be currently home to boys town and the Russian community, but it has a history that many don't realize. In 1926, the route between Chicago and Santa Monica was named Route 66. In what would later become West Hollywood, Santa Monica Boulevard was a major part of the famous artery with at least two popular eateries, Barney's Beanery and Irv's Burgers, seeing it through its heyday.

"Neon got its infancy and grew up on Route 66," said Jim Conkle of the Route 66 Alliance, which preserves, protects and promotes the roadway. "Neon and Route 66 are really synonymous and go hand in hand."

Conkle and other 66 fans joined West Hollywood officials Thursday night to celebrate the launch of a new neon art installation. "We were looking at projects that would sort of help our history, even our pre-history," explained Andrew Campbell, West Hollywood's Cultural Affairs Administrator, about the public art project's relation to the city's 25th anniversary. "The city's positioning along historic Route 66 is quite an important matter for us."

Four historic neon signs, which light up at night, are now on display in the city. Three of them can be found on the medians near the Sal Guarriello Veterans' Memorial at Santa Monica and Holloway. The fourth, which is from Winchell's Donuts in Upland, is at Plummer Park and should start lighting up within a few weeks. Apparently, some thinking a new donut shop will soon open there. The signs are on loan for a year from the Museum of Neon Art, which is currently in transition from downtown to a new Glendale space.

Additionally, the city produced a neon walking tour guide, complete with a map and brief descriptions, of 55 signs mostly along the Sunset Strip and Santa Monica Boulevard.