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Thursday, March 31, 2005


Signs of another time

Sands Motel

After about a half a year in San Jose — sorry, San José — I’m starting to develop an appreciation for the place. (There is some effort involved in this.) I’m also learning some city history in school, and certain local oddities are starting to make more sense.

San José had a huge growth spurt in the late 1950s and early ’60s, and they built some great signs back then. Fortunately, a lot of them are still standing, lending a real time-warp feeling to parts of the city — the parts that development has forsaken since the orchards first got plowed under.

The signs are exuberant and bold, playful and weird. But they often turn up in places that are anything but exuberant. The high design surrounded by low rent just screams photo essay. I’m starting to do some work on that, and I’ll be putting it up here.

This gem is on Monterey Road, part of El Camino Real, which was the main highway from the days of Spanish rule until the Eisenhower administration. That would date the sign somewhere between the two.

Monterey Road