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Visual series: Tucson's Neon Culture

Visual series: Tucson's Neon Culture

What better way to light up the night than a safe, controlled ignition of a gas! 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.

Neon is the second lightest gas, after helium. It's more expensive than gases because it's extracted from liquid air. It was introduced in the U.S. in 1923 with two signs at Packard dealership in Los Angeles. Its reddish-orange glow warms the darkness surrounding the signs. 

Thanks to the efforts of many businesses, residents, sign shops, the City of Tucson and the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, neon is once again igniting the night with a cursive glow.

Staff photographer with the Arizona Daily Star since 2003. Winner of a few awards, loser of many more. Ex-goalkeeper.

Photo editor

Rick Wiley is the photo editor of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. From 1995-2004, he was director of photography at the East Valley Tribune in Mesa. From 1988-94 he was a photographer at the Tucson Citizen. He is a graduate of ASU (yes, that ASU).

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