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Hardcover Signs and Wonders: The Commercial Face of America Book

ISBN: 0385486022

ISBN13: 9780385486026

Signs and Wonders: The Commercial Face of America

Signs and Wondersis a richly detailed history of the giant animated signs known as "spectaculars," the evolution of which has mirrored the evolution of American commerce and society throughout the twentieth century.??Although the book concentrates on Times Square, now as ever the spectacular's principal gallery, readers may be surprised to learn that the spectacular once flourished in every American city across the land. The blazing images portrayed...


Format: Hardcover

Condition: Acceptable

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Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Neon Rules!

"Our signs tell us who we are." That's they key point of Tama Starr and Edward Hayman's wonderfully evocative book, "Signs and Wonders." This account of the animated super-signs called spectaculars, whose principal habitat was Times Square, is both compelling history and personal narrative-Starr's company is largely responsible for the Square's landmark signs. Thus readers gain original, first-hand information on the creation of such memorable displays as the "smoking" Camel sign as well as the most enlightening exploration yet of signs as cultural and technological markers. (One lesson learned is that the great handmade neon signs have been totally usurped by prefab vinyl and LED displays--making neon an ever-hotter cultural item.) Photo-illustrated, the book is the best and most comprehensive work on its fascinating subject.

Lively and Fascinating!

I had no idea until I read this book how much signs mirror American history and imagination. The authors take us on a lively behind-the-scenes journey through the electric century. Beautiful color and black-and-white photos too. A fun read.

fun and educational

I enjoyed this book as much for Tama and Edwards personal enthusiasm for the subject and their behind the scene storys as for the history and insight to the world ofadvertizing and mass marketing.

An anecdotal, Runyonesque Times Square memoir.

This usually jaded reviewer of NY books just fell in love with Tama Starr's account of growing up in Times Square, her village, where her grandfather, Jake, a 1930s Runyonesque rascal, practically invented the neon sprawl that has become the city's foremost landmark. Part memoir, part history and wonderfully anecdotal, with characters that chroniclers like Runyon and Winchell and Lardner doted on, Tama Starr (first the child, later the girl and finally the owner-executive running Artkraft Strauss, Jake's neon sign company) pulls the Broadway curtain back on an American story no one has told before--how glitz got to be glitz, and Times Square got to be Times Square. And there's more: provocative stuff on the emotional affects of light and how advertisers use it to sell their wares; how the famous Camel smoke-ring sign was conceived and built; how developers nearly darkened the great white way forever; and, of course, how the New Years Eve ball got to be the New Years Eve ball. Still a ways off from publication (April '98), nonetheless put this on your list if you want a good New York read. Like the Daily News, it's as much New York as you can get.
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