West Hollywood Gets Its Kicks

The Museum of Neon Art pays homage to Route 66-style neon signage
MONA Diver & La Fonda.jpg

As technology and an increasingly mobile society irrevocably change the American cultural landscape, nostalgia has stirred many to embrace cultural touchstones from generations past. Route 66 (a.k.a. The Mother Road) serves as a primary example. Devised decades before the interstate system, it roams through eight states from Chicago to Santa Monica, CA. Along the way, neon signs have long served as iconic symbols of the sense of adventure the open road provides.

West Hollywood (WeHo), CA’s Museum of Neon Art (MONA) captures the essence of Route 66 and neon’s Americana mythology with its “On Route-66 Lights” exhibit, which opened August 5. The exhibit features several new, neon-sign installations: a replica of a neon-lined diver figure (the original was installed at the Virginia Motel in Mississippi); Zinke’s Shoe Repair shop sign, which was originally installed in Glendale, CA; La Fonda, which luminously identified a Glendale Mexican restaurant; and a Winchell’s Donut Shop, which was originally installed along Route 66 in Upland, CA.

The Diver, La Fonda and Zinke’s signs were installed along the median on a WeHo stretch of Santa Monica Blvd., and the Winchell’s sign has found a home in the neighborhood’s Plummer Park. Eric Lynxwiler, who guides MONA’s neon cruise through the community, is developing a custom map and tour that chronicles the signs’ history.

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