May 10, 2017

THE SIGN, Part Two

Continuing the tale of the Tudor City Sign, today's installment picks up the story in 1942.
The 42nd St. corridor showing both the Tudor City and Hotel Tudor signs lighted.
Bottom center, the lights over the tracks of the 2nd Avenue El.
Shortly after this photo was made in 1942, wartime jitters lead to dim-outs in New York City. Less stringent than blackouts, dim-outs do mandate extinguishing all electric signs, and so both signs go dark. This does not go unnoticed. Charles Driscoll, in his nationally syndicated column New York Day by Day, writes

One of the signs outside Times Square that is really conspicuous by its absence in the dim-out is the one atop a tall building at the east terminus of 42nd St.
"Tudor City" was all it said.
But it said that so loudly that nobody could look east along the main east-west street without seeing it. . .

The war and the dim-outs end. Then, one stormy day in September, 1949, the sign topples over. 

"Crashes down" actually, according to the monthly magazine Tudor City Viewwhich is the sole source for this news:
The high winds in September which sent the old Tudor City sign crashing down from the roof of Prospect Tower wasn't entirely an ill wind. For although this sign had been an eye-catching attraction to millions along 42nd Street, it was, nevertheless, outmoded. It has now been replaced by a new, giant-sized sign which embodies the most recent developments in sign lighting.
The story maddeningly omits a key fact, exactly where it came crashing down, but it seems safe to assume it was the rooftop and not the street. It is quickly replaced.

The original sign. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and its replacement.

Manufactured by the Broadway Maintenance Corp. of Long Island City, the new, "giant-sized" version measures about 30 by 50 feet with letters roughly 12 feet high. The color has changed from gold to red, and the sign has "more brilliant beams" because of "zeno florescent tubing, a modern substitute for neon." 

This 1949 sign remains in place to this day.

Continue to Part 3 here.

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