LA’s Glitter Shines on MONA’s Classic Neon Cruise

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Neon Cruise Highlights LA’s Glitter, Glam, and History

They’ve got flash, glitter and glam, and they undulate, shimmer and shine across all of LA. No, they’re not starlets. They’re LA’s neon signs.

If you’re looking for a Los Angeles bus tour that covers our city’s glamorous history, but isn’t one of those ubiquitous “tours of the stars’ homes,” then the Museum of Neon Art’s Classic Neon Cruise is for you.

On the Museum of Neon Art’s Classic Neon Cruise, you’ll get plenty of the glam, glitter, and history of LA, along with free-flowing humor and beverages – wine and sodas. Along the way, you’ll discover some of LA’s shining, historic icons.

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Our host on this recent open-top bus tour, Eric Lynxwiler and his sidekick, Philip McKinley, were superb guides — the historic information, insider tips, double entendre, and wine and sodas kept coming non-stop. Eric is a wealth of knowledge, being an acknowledged LA historian.

The tour begins and ends in Chinatown – described by Lynxwiler as a Disney-esque tourist area designed to sell trinkets — which is the site of some wonderful neon. From the Chinatown Central Plaza, a short walk from the Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station, the tour winds through Downtown LA, out to the Fairfax district (aka the Kosher Kanyon), and takes in the glitter of Hollywood. There are stops along the way where you can purchase snacks and beverages and use restrooms. The view from atop the bus is fabulous.

Along the three-hour route, you’ll see plenty of the ubiquitous advertisements for “Liquor,” “Motel,” and “Girls.” However, you may be surprised to learn that it was another of our city’s famous attributes that was the subject of the first neon sign in the USA. It wasn’t boasting a sexy starlet or film. It was a sign for a car dealership!

In 1923, two neon signs reading “Packard” were brought from Paris, France (the birthplace of neon signage) and installed at the south end of Downtown LA by Earle C. Anthony, whose dealerships still exist – albeit with new neon signs.

Many of the neon signs on the tour are designated historic landmarks. In some cases, the buildings to which they are attached no longer house the businesses touted by the lighted standards.

At the end of the evening’s Neon Cruise, we’d discovered a new side of LA. Perhaps LA doesn’t outshine the glitter of Vegas, but it has been sparkling far longer!

The Classic Neon Cruises are given on Saturday evenings from mid-June through the end of September, with holiday cruises in December and February. There are also special tours, such as one starting in glowing Glendale. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and the $55 fee includes wine and sodas.

In addition to your camera, we suggest bringing a hooded jacket, hat, or scarf to protect against the wind.

We had a great time. We know that on this tour you’ll definitely see a different view of the glitter and glam that is LA!

map from Gold Line Chinatown Station to Chinatown Central Plaza

Exit the Gold Line Chinatown Station using the north elevator, stairs or escalators. Walk uphill (west) on College Street and turn right on Broadway. The Chinatown Central Plaza is just a short distance.
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4 Responses to LA’s Glitter Shines on MONA’s Classic Neon Cruise

  1. Leeedy says:

    The Earle C. Anthony Packard dealership certainly does NOT still exist. Who says that? Certainly not as far as Los Angeles is concerned (the old building in San Francisco still exists, but the ECA dealership is likewise extinct there too for many decades). The building that was ECA, Inc. on the corner of Hope and Olympic in LA still exists, but has been morphed so many times that is is totally unrecognizable in either function or appearance to the original. Anyone believing the myth that the first neon sign was here is wrong anyway. It was a mile away–not at a dealership at all. And Mr. Anthony brought back three signs, not two. It says so in his original biographies and papers.

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