Last September, after getting laid off from my job, I did what every American is programmed to do in times of existential crisis — hit the open road. Unsure of my future, I decided to drive south from my San Francisco home to visit friends in Los Angeles. I had plenty of time before starting my next chapter, so I decided to take the scenic route: California Highway 1, on the stretches known as the Cabrillo Highway and the Pacific Coast Highway.
Not long into my road trip, I learned that you can take the woman out of type, but you can’t take type out of the woman. Of course the majestic ocean and soaring forests of the Central Coast left me breathless, but it was the retro signage that intrigued me more as I drove through small hamlets whose 1950s glory days were cut short by the interstate system.
Despite frequent trips to Southern California, I had never explored the area between Big Sur and Los Angeles and didn’t know what awaited me. A quick lunch stop in San Luis Obispo on the second day of my trip, clued me into keeping my eye out for some groovy roadside letters.
The next day proved that “one woman’s trash is another’s treasure”. Driving through the quiet farm town of Guadalupe, I pulled over twice in the town’s three block stretch to snap pictures of a landscape that very sadly could disappear.
Further down the highway, in the military town of Lompoc, I squeed at the roadside signage. The next week, as I drove back north, I parked in this tiny city and went sign-sightseeing.The locals definitely looked at me as if I was a tad off.
My destination of Long Beach seemed to have done a good job of recently restoring some of its vintage architecture and accompanying signage, a hope I have for the rest of California’s coastal towns.
Heading back north after a weekend in Los Angeles (which would warrant a whole other post…seriously, it’s a sign geek’s dream town), additional stops in Pismo Beach and Morro Bay satiated my touristy hunger for fun typography and whimsical roadtripper signage before returning home to San Francisco
I truly hope that others share my interest and joy in old signs and lettering and that perhaps future generations will appreciate it, and preserve it, as well.
This post is part of Greetings from, a series in which Alphabettes share typographic curiosities from around the world. Look out for a passport stamp in the photos to spot posts from the series, or read them all here.