Historic 1920s sign to shine once again over Echo Park [updated]

Photo courtesy Vista Investment Group

ECHO PARK — The city has had a decades-long love affair with bright and playful neon signs. But next week, a restored, animated sign composed of 1,300 red, green and white light bulbs will compete for the attention and imagination of residents as it flickers back to life against the night sky, a glowing relic of 1920s Los Angeles.

The 17-foot-high by 28-foot-long sign atop the Jensen’s Recreation Center has been mostly dark in recent years even as the three-story brick and terracotta building below has been renovated and filled with new boutiques, cafes and pricey apartments. Building owner Vista Investment Group paid to complete the daunting task of repairing the nine-decade-old sign after the Echo Park Historical Society* and others had raised funds and support for a relighting.

The sign depicts a bowler throwing a strike, a reminder that a small bowling alley once operated in the building’s basement. It is believed to be the only sign of this type and size remaining in the United States, according to some preservationists.

This is the second relighting of the sign. The sign had been dark for several decades when it was repaired and relighted in 1997 with the help of a city grant. That fix proved temporary, however, and the sign stopped working again a few years later.

Update: The time of the relighting ceremony on Friday, Oct. 27 has been changed. The ceremony will begin at 5 pm and the sign will be switched on at 6 pm.

The sign was turned on temporarily during the summer as repairs were being made | Michael Hayes

* Jesus Sanchez, publisher of The Eastsider, is a board member of the Echo Park Historical Society

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Jesús Sanchez, Publisher

The Eastsider

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