Neon Gets Its Due

For decades, neon has defined Hong Kong’s cityscape, bathing its skyscraper canyons in rainbow hues that have provided a memorable backdrop to films like Chungking Express and The World of Suzie Wong – and inspiration for classics such as Blade Runner. But Hong Kong’s neon signs are starting to vanish, which has prompted the city’s […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, History, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Neon Gets Its Due , , , , ,

Lockhart Road’s Neon Signs

Strip clubs often have fabulously kitschy neon signs. In Hong Kong, all of those signs are conveniently located in one place: Lockhart Road, scene of the city’s most debauched nightlife. Strip clubs, hooker bars and other places of ill repute have existed here since World War II, when American soldiers landed at the nearby Wan […]

Gunting Rambut

Hair salon, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

Posted in: Asia Pacific by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Gunting Rambut , , ,

Giddy Neon

Hang Heung bakery, Yuen Long Sixty years ago, when Yuen Long was still a country backwater, trapped between some scraggly hills to the south and a closed border to the north, two bakeries opened on its main street. Somehow, despite the odds, both of those bakeries became famous, spawning chains that now have locations all […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, History by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Giddy Neon , , ,

Miss Villeray

Miss Villeray by day… Whenever I wander up to Villeray, usually after a trip to the Jean-Talon Market, I make sure to take Henri-Julien so that I can pass by Miss Villeray. That’s because this neighbourhood bar is adorned by a particularly comely neon sign. It wouldn’t have turned any heads in the 1960s, when […]

Beirut: Signs of Postwar Politics

Posters along the former green line calling for “real change.” After years of foreign/militia rule, the Lebanese navy reasserts itself through this poster featuring a group of scowling teenage boys. “We’re back!” reads the caption in the lower left. Should we feel threatened or reassured?

Posted in: Africa and Middle East, Politics, Public Space by Patrick Donovan Comments Off on Beirut: Signs of Postwar Politics , , ,

Plus ça change…

Kate McDonnell pointed the way to some Flickr photos recently uploaded by Michel Gravel, a photojournalist for La Presse whose career has spanned more than 40 years. Many of the photos are street scenes from Montreal in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. What amazes me is how Montreal’s essential character has remained intact despite the […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Canada, Heritage and Preservation, History by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Plus ça change… , , , ,

Saved from the Scrapyard

Portions of the old Warshaw and Simcha’s signs on display at the 2007 Main Madness street fair I wrote a bit about Montreal signs a few years ago, including the memorable Logo Cities project, ghost signs, street signs and the fight to save the Farine Five Roses sign. Montreal’s linguistic diversity, penchant for kitsch and […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Canada, Heritage and Preservation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Saved from the Scrapyard ,

Election Sign Season

Not an election sign, but much more amusing I arrived in Montreal just in time for the most exciting municipal election campaign in decades. All at once, a bit too early for Halloween, all of City Hall’s skeletons fell out of the closet, with revelations that construction contracts are rigged and accusations that the municipal […]

Behind Ste. Catherine

Pigeons, a ghost ad and an old tavern sign in an alley between Mansfield and Metcalfe

Reclaiming Public Space

Top left photo by John Batten; others by Christopher DeWolf The brown leather chesterfield sits incongruously amid the parked buses, concrete paving and grey metal railings at the Tai Hang bus terminus. In the afternoon heat, a cat stretches over the length of the sofam but after sunset, it’s where bus drivers and passers-by sit […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Reclaiming Public Space , , ,

East End, West End, on fume tout de même

This is what makes ghost ads in Montreal more interesting than in most places: more than just a window into the past, they reveal the city’s linguistic geography, past and present. Here we have two examples of early-twentieth-century tobacco ads revealed by recent building demolitions. One, on east-end Masson Street in Rosemont, is in French. […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Canada, Heritage and Preservation, History by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on East End, West End, on fume tout de même , , , ,

Hong Kong Doorways: For Rent

Hong Kong is an entrepreneurial place. Even when a shop goes out of business, it isn’t out of the game: as soon as the shutter comes down, the broker signs go up. In most cities, a landlord might try to rent the space out himself, or hire to a single broker to do the job. […]

Well-Aged

Street sign on Taipa, Macau