In April 2012, restored vintage neon signs were installed and unveiled along Tucson’s historic Miracle Mile. These signs can be seen on Drachman between Stone Avenue and Oracle Road. The restoration represented a collaborative effort between the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation (THPF) and Pima Community College. According to THPF, this area joins to “Tucson's Mid-Century Modern highway--Historic Route 80 & 89 and State Route 84” (THPF, 2012).
While not all of the businesses advertised still exist today, the signs serve as vibrant reminders of Miracle Mile’s history and Tucson’s heritage as a popular stop for tourists within the Southwest. A 2009 historical context study for the North Oracle area noted the following:
“There are 28 extant neon monument signs contributing to the area’s visual fabric, of which 26 are along the original highway alignments of U.S. Highways 80 and 89, and within one block of these corridors. Generally, these signs retain an association with the businesses they front and contribute to the historic quality of the individual property. In some cases, however, the building originally associated with the sign is gone or has been significantly modified, yet the sign remains as an artifact of the area’s glittering past. These colorful luminescent structures are important character defining features of the Area; they activate the night environment, create visual continuity, exemplify the dying art of neon tube sculpture, and provide a tangible link to the past. The condition of these signs varies from excellent to poor, from full functioning as originally intended to painted over sheet metal shells. In some cases, functional signs have been redesigned, as owners, uses and businesses have changed, leaving intact only the primary form and structure.”
The following guides are available to introduce visitors to Miracle Mile’s neon signs:
Neon Art Walk. (2012). Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation (THPF). | Preserving Tucson's Unique Architectural Environment. Retrieved May 30, 2012, from http://www.tucsonhistoricpreservationfoundation.org/projects/neon-art-walk
The Neon Pueblo: A Guide to Tucson's Midcentury Vintage Advertising. (2012). Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation (THPF). Retrieved May 30, 2012, from www.tucsonhistoricpreservationfoundation.org/files/the_neon_pueblo_tucsonsignguide.pdf
For more information, visit tucsonaz.gov/preservation or call 520-837-6965.
Clinco, Demion. "Historic Miracle Mile Tucson’s Northern Auto Gateway: A Historic Context Study for the Oracle Area." (2009) City of Tucson. cms3.tucsonaz.gov/sites/default/files/imported/prog_proj/projects/oracle/Oracle%20Area%20Context%20Study.pdf (accessed May 30, 2012).
"Sign-lighting part of Miracle Mile area's revival : Welcome to StarNet - Tucson, Arizona." StarNet. (2012) http://azstarnet.com/lifestyles/recreation/sign-lighting-part-of-miracle-mile-area-s-revival/article_71cdbf60-c585-568a-bea4-53468ed4ff53.html (accessed May 30, 2012).
Last Update: 7-13-2012 1:40pm