Project Neon: 800 neon signs in New York City

Ben Marks of Collector's Weekly says: "We just published an interview with Kirsten Hively, whose Project Neon documents about 800 neon signs in New York City (her iPhone app directs users to about 120 of them)."

I’ve loved neon signs for a long time. When I would travel to cities like Portland or Chicago, I would take photos of neon signs and print them to hang up on my wall. Two years ago, I read that it was the 100th anniversary of the debut of the modern neon sign at the Paris Motor Show. It struck me then that I didn’t have a single photo of neon signs in New York. I think I took it for granted that I could see those signs any day. But those classic signs aren’t necessarily permanent.

At the time, I had just started a new job on the Upper East Side, in a neighborhood I’d never spent much time in. Getting out of work at 5 p.m., it was pitch-black outside. So I thought, “Maybe I’ll go take photos of those nice signs near my office”—at the Cork & Bottle liquor store and Goldberger’s Pharmacy. I figured I’d walk around the neighborhood. I vaguely remembered another up on 86th Street, at Papaya King. After I found that one, I ended up walking for hours and hours—and taking so many photos. Later, I went home and put them up on my Flickr.

A couple nights later, I went out to the Upper West Side and spent even more hours wandering around. I didn’t get to everything, but I got obsessive about taking photos of neon signs and marking where they were. When I had searched for other people’s photos of neon signs online, often the caption wouldn’t say where the image was taken. So I tried to be careful about always documenting the address of the place.

Neon Lost and Found: Where New York City Still Burns Bright