31 October 2014

Going For A Walk: Looking For Old Signs In Portland, Oregon

We had a little wander through downtown Portland the other day in search of old signs. This is one of my favorites - the old Guild Theatre.

We found some other interesting neon signs.

I remember this Portland Outdoor Store sign from when we lived in Portland. I didn't used to pay attention to old signs, but this one always stuck out. Look at the detail in how the cowboy is lit up. This place has been in business since 1929 and if they don't have what you need in terms of Western tack and clothing, then nobody does.

It isn't just old neon signs you can see walking about Portland. There are lots of painted signs on buildings advertising things like ham and bacon. 

Thanks to this article in the NY Times, I learned that the old hand painted advertising you see on brick buildings or barns are referred to as "ghost signs" and the painters were called "wall dogs". They were quite popular from the late 1800s until the Great Depression, although they did continue to be used into the 1960s. Nowadays, people are trying to preserve them whether on the buildings themselves or through photographs. Here are some more of the ones Scott captured on his camera.

I guess it isn't just Scott who is slightly obsessed with old signs. You can find entire blogs dedicated to ghost signs - Painted Ad, Ghostsigns and Fading Ad. I wonder if these guys have seen all of the amazing signs in the Pearl District?

Do you ever notice old signs when you're walking through a city?

Walk on 14 October 2014


  1. I'm with you on this one. I love old signs. Thanks for sharing these. :-)

  2. I never really appreciated them until recently. Now I see them wherever we go :-)

  3. I love it when the sign says what that newly converted building used to be. It takes my imagination for a ride.

    1. Completely agree - It is great when they preserve the signs so that you have a sense of the history behind the converted buildings.

  4. I will have to open my eyes! However living in a city that is practically being entirely rebuilt following the earthquakes a few years ago. Old stuff is getting harder to find. What I do like though is all the funky temporary new things that are popping up. There have been some incredible murals go up around the city which will all eventually be covered over when the neighbouring building is rebuilt. There will be some cool discoveries made in many years time when those buildings are eventually demolished. You can see some pics here... https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=christchurch+street+art+murals&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=923&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ZbVWVK7qKo2m8AWVv4HIBg&ved=0CBsQsAQ

    1. We were in Christchurch after the first earthquake - so sad to see all the destruction to the historic buildings. You all are such an amazing resilient people! Great pics of the murals!


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