Signage Of The Times

1950’s architecture exemplified ideas associated with bringing the future to present day. It was an era of test pilots, sonic boom, sputnik and the atom. The Boulevard saw roof lines that seemed to lift off and soar. Signs had aeronautical features.

I remember it as Fosters Freeze or Dairy Queen. They saw the slanted roof line as the perfect style befitting their soft ice cream treats.

The Flying Wing of the day was never quite successful. However something about the design resonated with architects.

The Flying Wing as motel architecture.

The Flying Wing was reincarnated later as the Stealth Bomber.

Or was it as a funeral parlor? The term for this futuristic mid-century style of architecture is Exaggerated Modern.

The signage of the times shared the same ideals as the architecture. One saw boomerang and trapezoidal signs, and huge arrows pointing towards the best place to go. No sign on The Boulevard had more style at shouting “shop here!” than this Honda landmark. A whirling arsenal of boomerangs speeding across a bow. As car dealerships relocated to Mission Vally and elswhere, Honda abandoned its Boulevard sales venue. The sign was taken down.

La Cresta Motel was once among the cream of The Boulevard motel crop.

An ordinary square sign would have been considered both ordinary and “square.” With a touch of neon, this was a most respectable offering.

Good signage was especially important to liquor store owners. This could either be viewed as a jet wing or arrow feather.

The building (right) is nearly all in one with the sign itself.

Neon was an essential element of the era.

I am Dan Soderberg, award winning documentary film maker and phototgrapher specializing in architecture, historic preservation and nature.
  • Luis Balcazar


    Your pictures regarding the structural design were probably a result of what was going on in San Diego in the 1950´s.Like you mention at the beginning of your commentary it was the era of test pilots,
    sonic boom.The roof design similar to a airplanes wing is eyecathing,it gets your attention.I remenber seeing a documentary about airplines, The Flying Wing was included in that film about
    airpline design.It is no suprise to me that 50 years later the Stealth Bomber was built using the same design, both are similar to the UFO´s that we have seen in the movies. The signs design has always played a very important part in any business their purpose is to attract customers.


  • Zack

    Nice pictures. Thanks. Can’t wait to see the next batch!

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