While Las Vegas may be the world's capitol for bright and over the top neon wonders, Portland certainly has its fair share of glorious signage worthy of excellence. I've always had a soft spot for big and bold neon signs. There is just nothing subtle about it and it doesn't hide its intention of grabbing your business by any means necessary.
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Palms Motor Hotel
I don't think there is a single person living in Portland who is not familiar with the neon sign for the Palms Motor Hotel. This photograph does not do justice to its massive scale along Interstate Avenue.
This sign has it all. Giant glowing arrow pointing travelings into the hotel parking lot. Check! Green palm trees rising up into the starry night. Got it! A subtle reminder of the free television that awaits you in your room. Of Course! Oh, and naturally a neon monkey just for good measure. Does it get any better?
Portland Outdoor Store
This is one of those neon signs that I am shocked still exists. It's located in the heart of downtown Portland and rises nearly three stories above a local store carrying outdoor clothing, camping gear, etc. My favorite aspect of this sign is the rodeo cowboy riding horse back up in the corner. Whenever I see it I feel like I've been transported to the south west of the United States. Arizona here I come!!
If you are a movie buff like I am living in the Rose City then the Laurelhurst Theater is probably your home away from home. This is not one of those movie theaters where you are going to find reclining seats or massive IMAX screens. No, this is a softer and more pure movie going experience (with a much lower ticket price to match).
The massive neon marque is an instant throwback to this theater's more humble roots. For less than ten bucks patrons can experience a great film along with a popcorn and even a pint of beer. Just ignore the rips in the seats. I mean, once the lights go down and the movie starts does it really matter all that much?
In Portland, everything retro is still as cool as the day it was introduced. Nothing is more true than this old school arcade where high scores are still king. The lights of the giant Avalon neon sign tend to give the streets below along Belmont Avenue a slight purple tinge, hinting at the futuristic world that awaits you within.
The Alibi Tiki Lounge
Tiki bars may have lost a little bit of their luster in recent years, but if you hang out at the Alibi on any given night you'd never know it. I mean, I personally can't think of anywhere in town where one can buy drinks quite as outlandish and sing karaoke quite as loudly as you can at the Alibi.
This has got to be one of the most active neon signs of all time. It's tough to tell on a static image but just about every aspect of this sign blinks, flashes, and shifts through a variety of colors and imagery.