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Tucson's Neon Culture, Part Three

From the Visual series: Tucson's Neon Culture series
  • 1 min to read

The neon sign for the former Downtown Motor Hotel on 383 S. Stone, Tucson, on March 30, 2017. The hotel was among the first in Tucson to honor the National credit card in 1951, which "allowed the user to 'charge' a dinner, a hotel room, a round of drinks" according to the Tucson Citizen. A 1953 newspaper ad claimed it was "the only motor-hotel in the heart of the city." It's now a multi-family affordable housing complex.

Arizona Daily Star photographer Kelly Presnell revisited neon signs that dot the landscape in Tucson. Many are a throwback to a time when a handful of longtime restaurants, hotels and bars served a smaller city. Some of the signs are barely hanging on today. Some have been lovingly restored to their former glory. Regardless, there's no way to duplicate the feel of neon when the sun goes down.

The neon sign at Sue's Fish, 2500 S. 4th Ave., South Tucson, which opened in 1960. The sign does not operate, but is one of the more notable designs.

The main Hotel Congress sign, 311 E. Congress St., Tucson, on May 11, 2017, framed by cables for the Modern Streetcar. The hotel opened in 1919 and has evolved into a longtime destination for food and nightlife. The iconic neon sign was added to the roof around 1940.

Quaint though stereotypical sleeping Mexicans on the signs outside the La Siesta Motel, 1602 N. Oracle, Tucson, on April 18, 2017. The two signs are the original pole-mounted units commissioned by the motel's owner in 1940.

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